6th National Fire Safety and Prevention Seminar held in Tzaneen, Mopani District Municipality, Limpopo Province
The theme of this year’s National Fire Safety and Prevention Seminar, which was held from 26 February to 1 March 2019, was: Locating the sustainable delivery of fire services within the national development agenda of South Africa. South Africa faces a complex fire problem, which is compounded by increasing urbanisation and is accompanied by an exponential increase in the number of informal settlements, increasing wildland urban interface, lack of capacity by some municipalities to name but a few. Consequently, the number of lives lost and injuries sustained as a result of fires is alarming. A report by the Fire Protection Association of Southern Africa (FPASA) on fire deaths by sector for the year 2015 revealed that 436 people lost their lives due to fires and that around 50 percent of the deaths (ie 219) are occurring in informal dwellings. The transportation of dangerous goods across the country’s road networks also significantly increases risk. Cross-border incidents involving dangerous goods also pose challenges to fire services located in cross-border towns.
In economic terms, the Fire Protection Association of Southern Africa (FPASA) noted that in 2016, the recorded financial losses incurred by the country as a result of fires exceeded R3,144 billion. Taking into account that this figure reflects fires attended to by fire services and reported to the FPASA, while excluding to a large extent uninsured losses and fires occurring in areas where no professional fire services exist, it becomes evident that the cost of fires to our country’s economy are significant and pervasive. Thus, it is critical that all role players must work collaboratively with a view to reduce fire risks and losses in the country. It is against this background that the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) hosts a Fire Safety and Prevention Seminar annually to galvanise all role players to contribute to the fire risk reduction agenda.
The Fire Safety and Prevention Seminar provides a platform for key role players in the fire sector to discuss progress, challenges, proposed solutions and recommendations towards reducing fire risks and losses in the country. To this end, the seminar is a strategic platform meant to provide a platform for interactive dialogue amongst fire safety and prevention practitioners and professionals in order to contribute to the national fire risk reduction agenda. It therefore does not purport to assume the form of the national disaster management and fire services multi-sectoral forum but only a platform to galvanised Fire Safety and Prevention Practitioners towards a well-coordinated programme of fire risk reduction. The Fire Safety Seminar outcomes will enable the department to address issues that are pertinent to the sector.
While the seminar addressed a number of topical issues related to fire safety and prevention, the following are the key thematic areas that were covered were:
3.1. Theme 1: Climate change and variability: Implications for the sustainable delivery of fire services;
3.2. Theme 2: Veldfire risk management: The strategic role of Fire Protection Associations (FPAs);
3.3. Theme 3: Implementation of National Building Regulations;
3.4. Theme 4: Community based fire risk reduction;
3.5. Theme 5: Improving fire safety through engineering (rational designs)
3.6. Theme 6: A mandate based national collaborative model for disaster risk management and fire services between the public and private sector.
The primary outcome from this summit is to galvanise Fire Safety and Prevention Practitioners to implement the National Fire Safety Strategy in order to reduce fire risks and losses.
The event took place over four days wherein day one was for specialised training and a visit to an area of interest in the area while day two was the formal seminar activities. Day three was utilised for fire safety inspections of identified high risk facilities including hospitals, boarding schools, clinics, pack houses, shopping centres etc, by all participating fire safety officers. Inspection teams provided feedback and recommendations on measures to improve compliance of inspected buildings on day four.