Back to Information and Resources Page

The National Veld and Forest Fire Act (Act 101 of 1998)

THE LANDOWNERS' RESPONSIBILITY

It is the Landowner’s responsibility to do everything in his/her power to stop the spread of veldfire, by:

  • Establishing and maintaining a fire break system:
    • on his/her side of the property boundary;
    • apply for exemption of this through the FPA; OR
    • of common fire breaks away from the property boundary agreed upon with neighbours (the WFPA can assist with this);
  • ​Establishing and maintaining a fire break system that:
    • is wide enough and long enough to have a reasonable chance of stopping a veldfire; 
    • does not cause soil erosion;
    • is reasonable free of flammable material;
  • Managing the fuel load on their land;
  • Having sufficient equipment, protective clothing and trained personnel to fight fires OR as prescribed;
  • Informing the Fire Brigade and all neighbours of a veldfire or prescribed burn; AND
  • Ensuring that in his/her absence responsible persons are present on or near the land to fight fires.

FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATIONS

The Act makes provision for the establishment of a Fire Protection Association (FPA) by Landowners for the purpose of predicting, preventing, managing and extinguishing veldfires.

  • The FPA is a Voluntary Association of Landowners.
  • Only one FPA may be registered in an area.
  • Membership is compulsory for Municipalities and the owners of State land which fall within the FPA.
  • The Fire Protection Officer performs the function of the Chief Executive Officer of the FPA.
  • Two or more FPAs may enter an agreement of mutual assistance.

Opening a case for a veld fire

All veld fires where non natural causes are suspected should be reported to the South African Police Services (SAPS) as soon as possilbe to open a criminal case.

It is important to note the following:

  • "Arson" in terms of the South African law only applies to malicious ignition of buildings.
  • The FPA or any of it's representatives (FMU or Ward leaders) cannot open the case on a landowner's behalf.
  • It is of great advantage to have an expert opinion stating that the fire ignition was not through natural causes.
  • Take photos and cordon off the "origin" of the fire as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Gather photos that can help pin point where and when the fire started, eg. the "smoke report" photos from WhatsApp groups.
  • You will need the SAPS case number and establish where and when the fire started for if you open a Civil case for damages against a neighbour. 
  • This fire report form (download here) will assist with collating the important information.
  • Being a member of the FPA only means that you are deamed "not negligent" in terms of the National Veld and Forest Fire Act in civil procedings until someone can proven that you were negligent under the Act. 

The following SAPS CAS numbers are to be used:
Law / ORD :   101
Year :              1998
Title:                National Veld and Forest Fire Act

NVFFA Table of Offences by Type

NVFFA Table of Penalties


DOWNLOAD THE ACT

Download a copy of the National Veld and Forest Fire Act (Act 101 of 1998) here:

Click here to follow link to: Resource material on the NVFFA