Durban — Working On Fire (WOF) say they have started attending winter fires in various regions in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).
WOF is a Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environments funded programme with more than 700 firefighters stationed at 39 bases across KZN.
KZN WOF spokesperson Nompilo Zondi said the most common negligent causes of these fires was leaving fires unattended after burning rubbish, tossing cigarette butts on the side of the road, cooking outside or conducting a fire break in their property.
“Some other causes are bee hunters that start a fire under a beehive, and these fires are not properly extinguished, which then contributes to the fires in communities near forestry plantations.
“Candle safety is another looming factor as we continue to experience load shedding, where candles are placed in the house and also the type of candle holders we use and being vigilant to blowing out a candle before going to bed.
“Overloading of plugs and also leaving heaters to burn all night, improper handling of gas heaters and imbawula,” said Zondi.
She said the programme implemented integrated fire management, combating wild veld and forest fires to save lives, protect the environment and restore dignity.
“WOF mitigates wildfire risks by conducting fire breaks at high risk areas and fuel load reduction.
“We also do free FireSafe awareness at schools and community door to door and FireSafe workshops and presentations to communities, assisting residents to be able to identify risks of fires and establish fire management plans that will be suitable for them,” said Zondi.
She said, in preparation for the winter season, the programme had completed top-up recruitment at teams and the refresher yellow card training camp to ensure the standard team strength is maintained according to best operation procedures.
“The winter season officially commences on June 1, we urge communities to prepare and always be alert. We also welcome collaboration with schools, municipalities, government departments and private entities on combating wildfires and reducing the risk of loss of lives and livelihoods,” said Zondi.
She said KZN teams had been dispatched to suppress 20 fires from last year, which is the highest number of fires compared with the northern provinces in the country.
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