Working on Fire (WoF) Waterberg firefighters are among those stationed at all bases across the province, to tackle the winter fire season in 2017. Photo: Lizzy Bapela
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Over 660 firefighters are stationed at 27 bases throughout the province, and are ready for the start of the winter fire season.
The 2017 winter fire season was launched on its commencement date on Thursday, 1 June and will end 31 October.
According to the Department of Environmental Affairs firefighters programme, Working on Fire (WoF) in Limpopo, the season could last up to the end of November.
This is due to the amount of rain the province had, which resulted in dry conditions with a heavy fuel load. This causes WoF to expect a very difficult Winter Fire Season.
The programme’s management believes that through partnerships with various private and public entities, they will be able to respond quickly. These include the Provincial Disaster Management Centre, Fire Protection Associations, SANParks, various private and public landowners, and municipalities.
“We urge landowners in particular to get in contact with us so that we can assist with the development of clear integrated fire management services. The services include, among others, prescribed burning, fuel load reduction, community fire awareness, early detection and fire suppression plans,” said WoF Limpopo Provincial Spokesperson Matema Gwangwa.
Meanwhile, WoF has been running Community Fire Awareness Campaigns throughout the province since the beginning of May 2017. The campaigns are aimed at teaching communities how to be fire-safe, and to prevent unwanted veld and forest fires. Gwangwa said the campaigns have been conducted as part of preparations for the winter fire season and will run till the end of the season.
WoF urged communities to be more vigilant during this fire season and not start unnecessary fires, particularly during dry days this winter. People are also asked to remove unnecessary rubble on their properties which can pose a serious fire risk, and houses next to grasslands need to ensure that there is sufficient fire breaks between their properties and these grasslands.
They are further asked to cut down overhanging tree branches close to their properties and also to clean their gutters. WoF further urges residents to also ensure they have the contact details of their local fire authorities at hand should there be a fire emergency.
“Our role as WOF is to save lives, protect the environment and restore dignity in our communities. For the past 14 years, we have been living up to that. Our fighters are professionally-trained to suppress veld and forest fires and they have been deployed throughout the province to reduce the environmental, human and economic harm caused by unwanted wildfires during the previous years. Our firefighting resources include both ground and aerial.
10 months ago 14 June 2017