Working On Fire’s Managing Director Trevor Abrahams will be flying the South African flag internationally when he presents at the International Association of Wildland Fire's (IAWF) Fire & Climate 2022 Conference in Pasadena, California, this week.
The conference will focus attention on the most significant forces shaping wildland fire today and better prepare international organisations to focus and respond to the formidable challenges of the future under the theme, “Building a global approach to the wildfire challenge”.
Abrahams is expected to present on “Poverty Alleviation through Integrated Fire Management: Creating Platform for Global Collaboration in Combating Unwanted Wildland Fires”.
His presentation is scheduled for this Thursday at 8pm, South African time. In a statement released by the award-winning programme, Abrahams said he was excited and proud to share the programme’s successes over the past 18 years with international experts and researchers and to be part of important discussions on global solutions to mitigating the impact of climate change on wildfires.
“Research shows that the world’s eight most extreme wildfire weather years have occurred in the last decade, and that extreme conditions drive the world’s fire activity. There is little doubt that extreme fire weather is being driven by a decrease in atmospheric humidity coupled with rising temperatures.”
He said that on average, Working on Fire attends some 2500 fires across the country annually.
Abrahams said the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal this year highlighted the impact of the negative weather phenomena and the critical need to prepare communities to mitigate the impact of climate change.
“International collaboration and knowledge exchange in this regard is hence critical,” said Abrahams.
WOF is a government funded Expanded Public Works Programme, implemented by Kishugu Holdings on behalf of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment. Launched in 2003, the programme employs more than 5000 young men and women, fully trained as wildland firefighters and deployed on more than 200 bases across South Africa.
More than 90% of WOF firefighters are between the ages of 18 and 35, making this programme one of South Africa’s most successful employment initiatives. With 30 percent of women firefighters, WOF is at the top of female employment in any similar firefighting force in the world.