Newsletter 2 of 2016

Dear FPA members

After a successful AGM we would like to share with you the following:

  1. The WFPA has 529 members who paid in 2015/16, 115 of which were new members
  2. The Constitution, Rules and Fees structure were approved
  3. The new WFPA leadership is:
    1. Breede Valley: Kevin Jollife
    2. Ceres Kouebokkeveld: Ben du Toit (re-election at next LV meeting)
    3. Ceres Witzenberg: Robert Zulch and Hennie Spamer
    4. Drakenstein: John Scrimgeour and Kuba Miszewiski
    5. Langeberg: Adrian Robinson and Paul Bruwer
    6. State Landowners: CapeNature Peter Viljoen
    7. Stellenbosch: Nico Uys and Siggy Kulenkampf
    8. Tulbagh Wolseley: Nic Dicey and Ralf Harle
    9. Warm & Kouebokkeveld: Sebastian Wolfaardt and Suretha Deetlefs

Unfortunately the AGM was not just positive but also brought the following shocking statistic:

There has been a 40% increase in reported fire ignitions to the Cape Winelands District Fire Services from 1272 in 2014 to 1784 in 2015.

Moving Forward

We will be focussing on more engagements and support of the FMU structures so as to ensure proper functioning of the WFPA at grassroots level. To this end we will be establishing suitable, cost effective, communication platforms in order to effectively distribute information to members. This will be an ongoing process to ensure maximum efficiency.

Appropriate training will also be offered to support these identified objectives.

We will also be driving the construction of strategic firebreaks as per the Integrated Fire Management Plan (IFMP) and will be starting to identify and mitigate the identified High Risk areas.

Lessons Learnt 2015/16 Season

One of the big lessons learnt this past season was the difference in consequences of large fires between where strategic firebreaks were in place versus where none were in place.

This was clearly illustrated at the Simonsberg Fire where the eastern side suffered little to no damage as some fire breaks were completed versus the western side, where damages were incurred due to virtually no breaks being completed.

Another lesson learnt is that landowners still do not understand how fires are fought or how Incident Command works on the larger incidents when Incident management teams are deployed. There still needs to be a lot of awareness and training given so as to better manage incidents. One major weakness identified is the lack of suitably experienced / qualified Division Supervisors. We hope to address this problem through training and awareness sessions in the preparation for the coming season. Member landowners will have to start making themselves available for this training in the off season (especially the FMU and Ward Leaders) as local knowledge is essential for this particular role.

Another major problem continues to be the lack of reporting of fires immediately they are detected. One fire had been burning for 3 days prior to being reported, resulting in a major fire that eventually crossed into a neighbouring District, property and crops were damaged as a result of this fire.

Procedure for controlled burning

WFPA Rule 10.1
“Members intending to conduct a prescribed/controlled burn must obtain a Burning Permit through the FPA Manager to conduct the burn at any time.”

Controlled/prescribed burning refers to all types of deliberately lit vegetation fires including rubbish pits, agricultural lands, veld blocks and slash heaps.

As of this year the Winelands FPA together with Cape Winelands Fire Brigade Services has taken over the issuing of all burn permits in the Cape Winelands District. The FPA will do the administration and Cape Winelands Fire will do the inspection of the sight including making recommendations or giving advice where required and then issuing the permit.

The procedure is:

  1. Suitable fire breaks must be made around the area.
  2. Send an email to opswfpa@gmail.com with the following:
    1. Applicant name and contact number;
    2. Landowner name and contact number;
    3. Location of controlled burn; and
    4. Type of controlled burn (Rubbish pits / Agricultural lands / Veld blocks / Slash heaps).

Click here to read more

It is the landowner’s responsibility to prepare fire breaks

It is very clearly stated in the National Veld and Forest Fire Act that it is the landowner’s responsibility to prepare fire breaks on or as close to their boundary as possible, or have agreements in place for strategic communal fire breaks. These firebreaks must be wide and long enough to reasonably stop the spread of a veld fire, may not cause soil erosion and is reasonably free of inflammable material.

We therefore recommend:

Click here to read more

Training

Depending on the demand, we will be offering a variety of courses again this winter. The courses will be conducted in English and/or Afrikaans (and isiXhosa) depending on the group. We have already reserved the last 2 weeks (18-29) in July as well as the middle two weeks (8-19) of August with the trainer (CMO) who facilitate the Basic Wildfire, Controlled Burning and IC Level 5 courses. To reserve your places please let the WFPA office (opswfpa@gmail.com) know by no later than 15 June 2016 of which courses, how many on each course and a range of available dates. For the multiday courses you may specify if mid-week or weekend. A small fee will be charged per person once confirmed as booked on a course.

We would really like to encourage our FMU and Ward leader as well as any other experienced firefighters to attend either the Basic ICS or IC level 5 courses.

The courses on offer will be:

  1. Controlled burning course
  2. Introduction to Incident Command Systems
  3. Incident Commander Level 5
  4. Basic Wildland Firefighting

Click here to read more

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