Partnerships are vital to effective wildfire firefighting
Western Cape Fire Season Launch emphasises the importance of collaborations during successful firefighting operations
At the Western Cape Summer Wildfire Season Preparedness Launch on Friday, 01 December 2017 at the Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset, the importance of interagency collaboration during wildland firefighting operations was again emphasised.
In his welcoming address, Anton Bredell, Minister of Local Government and Environmental Affairs stated that the Government is unable to fight wildfires on its own. “Our success in fighting fires can be credited to partnerships – resources coming together and working as a unit.”
He thanked the various stakeholders for their commitment, passion and the planning and resources they put into this fire season – San Parks, Cape Nature, Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC), Working on Fire, the various Western Cape Fire Protection Associations (FPAs), volunteer wildfire services and landowners.
Minister Bredell indicated that their resources for this season includes 24 aircraft and 36 airstrips, 1,550 municipal firefighters, 1,020 seasonal firefighters and 830 Working on Fire firefighters.
National General Manager for Working on Fire, Shane Christian, indicated that WOF has another 500 WOF firefighters ready to be deployed if and when needed.
In her address, the Executive Director, Conservation Management for CapeNature, Gail Cleaver-Christie, also stressed the importance of partnerships in protecting the Cape Floral Kingdom – one of only six floral kingdoms left in the world. “When you are out there, it doesn’t really matter what badge you are wearing. Our success lies in sharing resources and working together towards one objective and one goal.”
The formalities were concluded with a firefighting simulation and display by WOF and other seasonal wildfire firefighting teams. WOF Aviation added an aerial firefighting component to the simulation that included a Spotter aircraft as well as an AT-802 Bomber and two Huey Helicopters that each did two water drops with unpotable water from a nearby dam.
Minister Bredell called on the citizens of the Western Cape to help fight fires by being vigilant and reporting fires sooner rather than later by calling the emergency number, 112. “Our whole strategy is based on getting to the fire as soon as possible. We have got the manpower and resources to help. The quicker we get the experts on the scene, the less damage there will be at the end of the day.”