The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy has urged communities and landowners to remain vigilant and protect themselves and their properties from the potential devastation of wildfires with extremely chilly weather conditions expected from Wednesday.
The call by Minister Creecy comes as the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s Working on Fire (WOF) Programme announced its state of readiness for the winter fire season which started on 1 June.
Over 4000 firefighters and their managers are stationed at 160 bases across the north of the country. All firefighters completed their Annual Yellow Card Training Camps in April and May and have been declared fit and ready for the Winter Fire Season.
The Working on Fire programme has also deployed 10 helicopters and 9 fixed wing spotter planes together with 26 pilots to provide aerial firefighting support to its ground crews. Additional aerial fire -fighting resources are made available to various Fire Protection Associations when the need arises. Working on Fire is already assisting partners and landowners to ready for the winter fire season through its Integrated Fire Management Services (IFMS).
“As the winter fire season is in full swing we appeal to community members to remove overgrown vegetation on their properties, which can pose a serious fire risk. Properties next to grasslands need to ensure there are sufficient fire breaks between their properties and these grasslands,” said Minister Creecy.
Scientists across the world have warned that as a result of climate change and global warming, fire seasons are becoming longer, and more extreme. Our country is no exception as we have seen by the late season fire which affected the Somerset West area last week.
“Allow me to take this opportunity to express my solidarity to all families and communities that lost homes and property in the devastating fire last week,” said Minister Creecy
The Working on Fire Programme is part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and is funded by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment. The Programme celebrated 18 years of existence in September 2021 and employs more than 5000 young men and women, mostly from underprivileged communities across the country. Youth living with disabilities are trained as store persons and are part of the teams stationed on more than 160 bases throughout South Africa.
For media enquiries, contact Albi Modise on 083 490 2871
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY, FISHERIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT