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July : Practical tips for the fire season

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26 July, 2017

Practical tips for the fire season

Practical fire tips


AS Zululand approaches the drier winter months and the losses owing to the destructive nature of fire resulting in the loss to people's lives and property in the southern Cape are very fresh in the minds of many, it is wise to implement safe fire precautions.

Forestry South Africa reports that during 2016, an estimated 6 000 wild fires occurred, burning close to 500 000 ha of land (including grasslands and trees) in Mpumalanga and KZN.

These fires not only endangered the lives and homesteads of local residents, but put numerous fire fighting teams at considerable risk.

There is little doubt over the threat of major fires; both in terms of human life and suffering, the threat to animals, and the potential economic consequences of a blaze in both timber plantations and indigenous forests.

Just one spark can start a fire that can damage tree plantations and crops, livestock and houses and threaten people's lives.

Preparations essential

The Inkatha Freedom Party has joined the call for farmers and farming communities to take the necessary precautions to avoid veld fires during this dry fire season.

‘We encourage farmers to ensure that their fire belts, especially along border fences are cleared and accessible for vehicles to drive along during veld fires.

‘The areas around buildings and sheds, as well as workers' houses should be cleared and farmers must ensure fire-fighting equipment is in good working condition, that two-way radios are working and that tanks are filled with water,' said IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson on Agriculture, Nhlanhla Msimango.

‘Veld fires destroy valuable timber and natural vegetation, such as grass for grazing, and thatching, and animals are also killed.

‘The damaged environment also has an adverse impact on the tourism sector, one of KZN's most important sources of revenue.'

He said any irresponsible acts resulting in the outbreak of veld fires must be regarded as a criminal offence and those responsible must be prosecuted and legally punished.

Msimango said there is an urgent need to intensify cooperation of all role players to succeed in reducing the occurrence of uncontrollable wild fires in KZN.

Be fire-wise

Last year, Forestry South Africa in collaboration the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) launched the Fire-Wise campaign to create awareness of the very real danger of fires during the dry winter months.

Practical advice may seem to be common sense but in a fire situation, things can go from bad to worse in seconds.

  • All fires start small so act fast and report fires, no matter their size, to the local fire protection services
  • Do not start a fire you cannot stop
  • Do not try to stop a raging fire without proper training and equipment
  • Caution children and neighbours about the dangers of fire
  • Never leave a fire unattended
  • Take care with candles and lamps
  • Never throw a match or cigarette into dry grass or bush
  • Douse smouldering coals properly as they can easily be re-ignited by a gust of wind
  • Fire protection associations all over South Africa have been on fire alert since mid-May
  • Report any wildfires toll-free on 086 0663473 (nationwide)

Zululand Observer