District Fire and Disaster Management symposium a success

MAY 8, 2015

The Sarah Baartman District Municipality held a three-day fire symposium at the Cape St Francis Resort, in St Francis Bay, in the Kouga Local Municipality, which began on May 6 in order to discuss ways to improve fire services and community safety within the District.

In his speech, on the opening day of the symposium, Sarah Baartman District Municipality Municipal Manager, Ted Pillay, told delegates from the Sarah Baartman District’s local municipalities that improving local fire services could prevent serious injuries and save the lives of many residents.

The event was also attended by disaster management representatives from the Eastern Cape provincial government as well as national departments and other stakeholders.

Pillay challenged delegates from local municipalities to share knowledge and experiences with regards to addressing this disaster management.

A presentation by Moses Khangale, Senior Manager of Fire Services Coordination at the National Disaster Management Centre in the Department of Coorporative Governance and Traditional Affairs, gave an overview of the draft White Paper on fire services.

He began his presentation with the fire risk within South Africa – with implications on the Sarah Baartman District, where fire is also an ever-present risk.

Khangale said that according to Stats SA, 2241 people lost their lives to smoke inhalation, fire and flames in 2012, and added that poorer municipalities battled to deliver sustainable fire services.

He said that the public should be educated on fire prevention, especially within the informal settlements, as they make use of candles for light and open fires and paraffin stoves for cooking, making those more at risk.

“The use of highly combustible materials and proximity of structures heighten the risk of fires in these areas,” Khangale presented.

He added that people need to be informed on the correct fire emergency contact details, as well as educated on what to do when there is a fire emergency.

Khangale explained the purpose of the White Paper as “sets out a vision for the fire service of the future and outlines the strategy for achieving that vision going forward.”

“In essence, this White Paper provides a comprehensive framework for understanding the philosophy and approach, in the delivery of fire services in the country,” he added.

Another speaker, Advocate Graham Richards, spoke about the Municipal Structures Act Relating to Fire Services and its impact on local government.

He was followed by Luke Radebe, from the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Pretoria, who spoke about proposed amendments to the National Veld and Forest Fire Act (NVFFA) the role of local municipalities in the implementation of the Act.

Sarah Baartman District Municipality Chief Financial Officer, Danie de Lange, also addressed the delegates on the Funding of Fire Services in the District. He said that the full amount on how much funding was needed in the region could only be determined after a fire and disaster risk assessment within each local municipality.

The day concluded with Khangale speaking about the Funding of Fire Services in South Africa, showing the Challenges and Opportunities.

The second day of the symposium, which was on May 7, saw further discussions on issues such as Procedures for Aerial Support in firefighting; the role Eastern Cape Provincial Disaster Management Centre (ECPDMC) and local municipalities in fire services and the 2009 Sarah Baartman District Municipality Fire Functionality Assessment.

A Fire Fighting Capabilities research document was also handed over to the Kouga Local Municipality.

On the third day, delegates discussed the Amathole District Municipality’s Perspective and Performing of the Fire Services Model document and concluded with further discussions on Perspectives and Performing of Fire services in public and private partnerships.

The three-day symposium was sponsored by the Fire Raiders, Pheonix and the Rural Metro Emergency Services.