WC allocates R18.3m to combat fire season

23 Oct 2022 in Where We Govern

In response to a DA parliamentary question, the Western Cape Department of Local Government has confirmed that it is ready for the oncoming 2022/2023 fire season. While fire is a natural part of many Western Cape ecosystems, the effects of global warming and man-made sources of ignition mean that the danger posed to lives, property, and the environment by runaway wildfires increases every year.

The Western Cape’s response to fires is governed by its Integrated Fire Management Strategy, which is developed over the course of the year with inputs from all major role-players. The strategy brings together bodies from all spheres of government to ensure that each municipality’s response to fire is coordinated and well-supported. The Department of Local Government has devoted R13.8 million of its budget toward ensuring that a unified fire response is achieved across the province – a number which stacks on top of each municipality’s firefighting budget.

In addition to this coordinating capacity, the Department of Local Government also provides specialised, direct support to the firefighting efforts of municipalities. Municipalities are able to request specialised ground and air support, with the Department of Local Government ensuring access to 24 dedicated firefighting aircraft in strategic locations across the province. These units provide much-needed, extra support which would ordinarily be beyond the means of local municipalities.

MPP Derrick America said: “I am pleased to see that the Department of Local Government has once again ensured that a comprehensive plan is in place to deal with the summer wildfire season. With this considered and far-reaching strategy, I am confident that the province is ready to respond to incidences of wildfires should the need arise. I look forward to discussing the details of these plans with Minister Anton Bredell at our next engagement.

While these measures are sure to give the Western Cape the edge in winning the battle against uncontrolled fire, public co-operation is still needed for these resources to be leveraged as effectively as possible. I implore all members of the public to remain conscious of fire safety, especially in hot, dry, and windy conditions. As Western Cape citizens, each of us also serves as a part of the best possible early-warning system for our firefighters, with many possibly disastrous fires having been averted by vigilant members of the public in the past. Members of the public who notice smoke or other signs of fire should urgently report this to their District Municipality. Working together, we can work to combat this common enemy.”