STAY SAFE WHILE OUTDOORS DURING THE FIRE SEASON
Every year the Western Cape braces itself for possible fires. The Cape Winelands District Municipality is at the forefront of firefighting and has some valuable tips on how to protect your family and property against veld fires.
The Cape Winelands District Municipality (CWDM) fire services extinguish about 1 500 veld and wildfires per year, in a 22 309 km² area. The fire season runs from 1 November to 30 April. Around 93 % of wildfires are caused by humans, and only a few are due to lightning and animal activity. However, fighting fires is not the only task of the CWDM Division Fire Services. CWDM’s Division Fire Services together with the Winelands Fire Protection Association (FPA) help landowners protect property and harvests by preparing firebreaks. Landowners in the CWDM can contact the FPA or the fire services to enquire about these services. To deal with the demand, new firefighters are being trained regularly, while existing firefighters go for further skills training. There are currently 60 full-time firefighters and 60 reservists. The municipality works in partnership with CapeNature, the FPA and five private teams. Not all fires are managed in the same way. The fire team decides what kind of action is required depending on the situation. Sometimes fire services will allow part of a veld to burn so that it can replenish. Fires high up in die mountains are not always accessible and ground teams need to be flown in. The main purpose of the CWDM’s Division Fire Services is to protect people, their property and the environment from veld fires. The primary goal is to prevent fires and, when they do occur, eliminate loss of life and reduce property loss. Our preparedness planning for the 2018/19 veld fire season includes a veld fire risk assessment.