Western Cape government offers to assist Australian wildfire crisis
Boomkamp said: “In Paarl and Wellington we have several firefighting entities looking after the safety of people and property. As a result of the big fires in 2017 and 2018, we learnt many lessons.”
Talking about recent fires in the Drakenstein Municipality, Boomkamp said: “Over the last few days, the DFW volunteers have managed to suppress a number of start-up fires, though in some cases the fires have been guided and left to burn out, without danger.”
“A fire start-up normally multiplies every 30 seconds, so in two minutes the fire has grown eight-fold, but in three minutes already 32-fold. That is why it is necessary to be on hand as soon as possible with water to put out the fire,” said Boomkamp.
The DFW firefighter group has access to three fire trucks that between them carry a total of 14700 litres of water. They also have 10700 litre SUV 4x4 response vehicles which are spread over the Paarl and Wellington area.
“Seven areas have their own commanders and gear for optimal response and are covered by a private radio network over repeaters,” said Boomkamp.
Active Australian firefighter Brent Clayton, who has written a book on firefighting and also runs a firefighting recruitment agency, said: “My biggest takeaway from the crisis in Australia right now is the need to have resources put aside in preparation for most, if not all, eventualities.”
Towards the end of last year, as the provincial authorities announced their preparations for fire season, it emerged that the province had 21 aircraft on standby to tackle wildfires across the Western Cape.
These include nine water-bombing helicopters, four water-bombing aircraft and eight spotter command and control aircraft that can be deployed using 36 runways prepared across the province.
Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said: “Every year, the fire season seems to be getting worse.
Conditions across the province are still hazardous in many areas following the devastating drought we have faced that caused lots of brush and veld to die. If the veld catches alight and the wind takes the flames, the results can be devastating.”
The aerial resources are complemented by 1550 municipal firefighters across the province, bolstered by more than 1000 seasonal firefighters, municipal and other organisations.@MwangiGithahu