Provincial Fire Readiness Plan in Place
The annual Western Cape fire season has already started, with several large fires raging in the Darling and Cape Town areas in the past week. The Department of Local Government through its Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) is responsible for the co-ordination of support before, during and after disastrous incidents.
Anton Bredell, Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning said: "The PDMC has developed a more pro-active strategy in dealing with this challenge in 2010/11 and, together with the city of Cape Town and the other district municipalities in the province have implemented a number of interventions which will ensure a more rapid response to veld and forest fire incidents."
These interventions include:
- The deployment of four fixed wing Dromader aircraft which will respond simultaneously to any major fire in order to attack the fire with a maximum impact in its early stages. These aircraft have a water load capacity of 2500 litres and will be deployed together with a spotter aircraft for command and control purposes within the first hour of a major fire outbreak.
- The fixed wing aircraft are in addition to the helicopter aerial support funded by the Province each year.
- The Provincial Disaster Management Centre situated at the Tygerberg Hospital is in the process of being upgraded to enable staff to monitor critical fire indicators. This includes the provision of real-time information on any fire in the province larger than five square meters.
- The Province has an established provincial fire working group which comprises all the stakeholders involved in veld and forest fires. This working group has established an integrated fire management plan which covers prevention, mitigation and response procedures and strategies.
- The PDMC will convene a workshop in January 2011 to do a comprehensive assessment of the first month of the fire season and will revise its veld and forest fire strategy accordingly.
- In September 2010 the Department conducted a comprehensive flood and fire awareness campaign in 52 schools and communities throughout the Province. The main focus was on the prevention of fires in informal settlements and more than 16000 people (mostly in high risk areas) were reached during this campaign.
- The City of Cape Town has developed a specific response procedure for dealing with fires in informal settlements. Of the 19 fire fighting vehicles they have acquired over the last 3 years, 10 have been specifically adapted to work in the close confines of informal settlements. These vehicles have an all-wheel drive capability and are deployed to the high risk areas together with additional water tankers to compensate for the lack of fire hydrants in certain areas. The City has also extended their fire awareness programmes to all the high risk informal settlements.
- The City is also procuring a heavy lift helicopter as aerial support for the City in addition to its other normal preparedness plans for the summer season. It should be available as from the 15th of December.
The Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management Centre is committed to ensuring a world class approach to dealing with veld and forest fires and informal settlement fires in order to avoid loss of life and limit the devastation of summer fires.
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