The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) on Tuesday said its Working on Fire team was ready for the upcoming winter fire season, which usually starts early in June and ends in November.
The Working on Fire team comprises 4 000 firefighters, stationed at 160 bases throughout South Africa.
Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa lauded the Working on Fire firefighters for their foresight and hard work in preparing for the fire season in good time.
“These firefighters are professionally trained to suppress veld and forest fires and have been deployed throughout the country, to reduce the personal and economic harm [that is] caused by unwanted wildfires,” Molewa said.
The Minister expects an especially difficult winter fire season, owing to many areas in the country having been gripped by drought over the last two to three years.
She noted, however, that through partnerships with provincial disaster management centres, fire protection associations, South African National Parks, various private and public land owners, as well as local municipalities, the DEA will be able to respond quickly in rendering a veld fire suppression service.
Working on Fire has also established a national deployment team, which can be dispatched to anywhere in the country, to assist farmers and land owners with fire suppression efforts.
Molewa urged land owners to work with the Working on Fire team, to allow for assistance with the development of clear and integrated fire management services that includes prescribed burning, fuel load reduction, community fire awareness, early detection and fire suppression plans.
Meanwhile, the Working on Fire team will launch community fire awareness campaigns throughout the country, starting this month. The campaigns are aimed at teaching communities how to be fire safe and how to prevent unwanted veld and forest fires.
These campaigns will also empower those at risk to take responsibility in reducing the danger and impact of fires in their communities.