Articles
Social & Community News
21 August 2020

Rustenburg – Devastating fires have spread over the R24, Kgaswane Nature Reserve and other areas around Rustenburg since Wednesday 5 August.

According to the Greater Rustenburg Fire Protection Association (GRFPA), national statistics indicate that 90% of wildfires are caused by human negligence and only 10% by lightning. Runaway fires are often a result of human activity and fall into three categories:

  • Malicious - Fires are set deliberately with malicious intent.
  • Negligent - Fires which could have been avoided with even the most basic precautions, like not burning trash in the heat of the day or when there is wind, or failing to clear a fire-safe area, devoid of combustible material around open fires or ashpits.
  • Accidental - Fires that happen even when all reasonable precautions were taken.

Although landowners or land users do not have to belong to a Fire Protection Association (FPA), all landowners on whose land veldfires may start or burn or spread have legal obligations and responsibilities in terms of the National Veld Fire and Forest Act and municipal by-laws. In areas where wildfires are a high risk, FPA’s provide a platform for rural owners and managers of land to cooperate in the effective management and prevention of veldfires. The final responsibility for veldfire management lies with the owner of the land.

No burning of fire breaks is allowed in the GRFPA area of jurisdiction between 30 June and 31 October. The risk of runaway fires during this period is high. In addition to this fire restriction period there is a fire ban period where no open-air fires are allowed. This is dictated by the Fire Danger Index (FDI) which is publicised daily during fire season, by the South African Weather Service.

Although it is too late now to burn firebreaks, one can clear firebreaks by scraping and ploughing or slashing and cutting vegetation to create an area of reduced combustible material which will slow a wildfire down and create an access point from which to fight a fire.

The GRFPA is one of 20 registered FPA’s in the North West province. The GRFPA boundaries correspond with the municipal boundaries of the Rustenburg Local Municipality. Also included are the rural areas between Buffelspoort and Mooinooi and Pilanesberg National Park.

They believe that prevention is better than cure and because very few properties that border ‘wildland’ are immune to annual fires, prevention and preparedness are vital to protect property and infrastructure from fire.

Membership of an FPA is voluntary for private landowners, but comes with a few advantages therefore the GRFPA would like to encourage all rural landowners to join.  

All the necessary forms and information can be found on the GRFPA website at http://grfpa.org.

The GRFPA is not a fire fighting service and all fires should be reported to the Rustenburg Fire Department on 014 590 3232/3444/3333.

 

Veld fire. Photo supplied by the GRFPA.

 

Share this article with a friend...