2017 Winter Fire Season Goal: Zero Deaths
During the launch of the 2017 Winter Fire Season, Chief Director CCOGTA MPU, Sam Ngubane, expressed his desire for a fire season with zero fire related deaths.
The launch was hosted by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, at the Provincial Disaster Management Centre in Nelspruit, on Friday, 30 June 2017 and the main focus of this official event was to promote fire awareness at the start of a new fire season.
In his address, Ngubane, spoke of the past season and said that the Knysna fires reminded people that wildfire is a common phenomenon in South Africa. “But, I am pleased to say that many lives and property were saved, thanks to the efforts of Working on Fire Teams and other disaster management stakeholders .”
The winter fire season affects the northern provinces of South Africa (Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Free State, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape) and stretches from 01 June to 31 October.
The launch was attended by a number of local FPAs, governmental departments, stakeholders in the firefighting industry and disaster management agencies
Martin Bolton, Provincial General Manager for Working on Fire (WOF), said they are anticipating a very challenging fire season.
“Last year, 206 more fires were reported then the previous year. But, our Working on Fire teams are prepared, having successfully completed their yellow card refresher training.”
Duane Roothman, Chairperson of the Mpumalanga Umbrella Fire Protection Association (MUFPA) stated that they do not want people to look back 10 years from now and remember a year of disaster.
He reiterated the fact that there are WOF teams located throughout the northern part of Mpumalanga, with aircraft stationed at a number of bases and more than 100 cameras to detect fires. “Resources are available to assist with both prevention and suppression.”
He encouraged landowners to align themselves with the National Veld and Forest Fire Act – conduct the necessary fire breaks, train personnel to manage fires effectively, acquire the right equipment and promote fire awareness. “Landowners should engage with their local FPAs and not only call on resources when it is too late.”
The Kishugu Group plays an integral part in firefighting operations. WOF Aviation performed a flyby – consisting of a spotter, five bombers and a huey – and WOF programme did a march.
Kishugu Training also had a strong presence at the launch. It showcased a wide range of training solutions which includes Basic to Advanced Firefighting, First Aid training, Incident Command Systems (ICS) training, Brush Cutter and Chainsaw operators.
Rootman concluded by saying that they are looking forward to a good fire season. “A good fire season is one without loss of life and huge economic implications to the region.”