Western Cape Government has helped local municipalities purchase 60 fire fighting vehicles since 2016
The Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management Centre recently detailed the province's extensive preparations in place to ensure that they remain on the front foot in preventing fires at the Western Cape Government's facilities. During the briefing, it was highlighted that the Western Cape Government has provided aerial support since 2011 to municipalities, totalling R125 million through its 'annual integrated wildfire support programme'. The programme also includes specialised ground support teams, which are protecting communities in the event of fires. The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, the Minister of Transport and Public Works, Daylin Mitchell, the Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, the Director-General of the Western Cape, Harry Malila and the respective Heads of Department formed part of the briefing.
During the briefing, they further unpacked the findings of the Fire Service Capacity Assessment conducted in 2014 and some of the challenges highlighted and informed of the Provincial Government's comprehensive measures in place to reduce the risk associated with fires.
In addition to the allocation towards aerial support, the Western Cape Government's comprehensive measures in place to prevent and fight fires in the province include:
There is a special operations response, which includes an 'Urban Search and Rescue Team' with 130 trained USAR technicians and a Hazardous Materials Response System that consists of a District Response System and two units provided to Central Karoo.
They have installed more than 10 000 smoke alarms in informal dwellings through the smoke alarms programme. This has decreased fire-related deaths by approximately 90 percent in areas with installed smoke alarms.
The Western Cape Disaster Management Centre has three active United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination members who have received international training in terms of responding to disasters.
The Provincial Government is providing a fire and rescue training programme. This has ensured that 90 percent of municipal fire fighters outside of the Metro have received training in mandatory fire qualifications since 2016. Training has also been provided to a total of 105 members in specialist hazardous materials response in 2021 and 20 technical rescuers are being trained a year.
The programme further includes fire safety training and is provided to all municipalities, which includes a five module fire prevention and safety programme consisting of fire risk assessment, fundamentals of building construction and design, building plan and rational design scrutinisation, by-law application and fire investigation and fire investigation.
Going forward, they plan to empower the district fire services in developing training academies such as in the Overberg district.
They also have in place seasonal fire awareness campaigns, a pre-fire planning system, specialised capacity building, fire prevention officer capacity building and a Fire Service Area Assessment Tool.
Speaking on the briefing on 8 January 2022, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Developmental Planning, Anton Bredell, said, "As we are in the midst of the fire season, December to April, our Disaster Management team is ready to respond with speed to any wildfires which may occur. We take this very seriously and it is reflected in our spending of over R125m since 2011 to combat fires in the province. But as with many things in life, prevention is always better than cure, so we urge the public to be responsible with open fires and to report any fire sightings to the closest authorities as quickly as possible."
Source: South African Government