Landowners encouraged to burn fire breaks

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WOF firefighters as they commence with fire breaks

Working on Fire program encourages landowners and farmers to burn fire breaks to prevent the outbreak of veld and forest fires in their area.

The general manager for Working on Fire program in Gauteng Province, Mr Stephen Boyes, said that every year his teams of firefighters go out to help landowners to burn the fire breaks.

Mr Boyes said preparing fire breaks on time helps avoid disastrous fires in the month of August when the fire danger index becomes worse.

‘‘I have seen farms burn late October last year and damage to properties was minimized by our firefighters’ participation. But fires pose a threat to lives and livelihoods,’’ said Mr Boyes.

Working on Fire program implements integrated fire management which includes inter alia burning fire breaks, fire suppression, and fire awareness education.

Veld fires could be started in a range of ways, from human negligence, such as throwing burning cigarettes in dry grass or leaving a fire unattended, to natural fire such as those sparked by lightning.

Mr Boyes said the National Veld and Forest Act stipulates that every landowner on whose land a veld fire may start or burn or from whose land it may spread must prepare and maintain a firebreak on his or her side of the boundary between his or her land and any adjoining land before the fire season.

In the last fire season, Gauteng Province recorded 367 veld and forest fires. Mr Boyes advised the landowners to create fire belts, and be capacitated to be able to prevent and suppress veld and forest fires.

He explained that people lose properties from unmanaged and disastrous fires especially during this time of the fire season.

‘‘Our teams are using Fire Danger Index so that when we do fire breaks it is safe. This minimizes chances of fire getting out of control,’’ said he said.

The General Manager said landowners can contact Working on Fire program if they need assistance in burning fire breaks.

‘‘My wish is that all landowners take cognizance of the law and prepare the required fire breaks as well as access roads along their boundary fences, all these actions will result in that we do not lose the amount of veld and grazing as we lost this season,’’ he urged