2023/24

ANNUAL
REPORT

The cooperation from our members is commendable. Quick reporting and quality data from members, non-members and the public have significantly improved. We believe that this is down to the support of the Fire Chiefs, focused awareness messaging, increased public understanding of wildfires and their responsibilities, and the realisation of the impact of climate change and wildfires.

Reporting: Emergency numbers were accessible.
Impact: Neighbours are now voicing their concerns prior to fire season, to avoid the potential of a larger impact of a wildfire.
The cost of fighting a wildfire: An extended attack not only means more potential destruction but also places pressure on their own resources and time.
Risk reduction: The increased opportunities to reduce fuel load or decrease a known wildfire risk area when everyone is committed and working together. 

In this report, we look back on the year that was – from the ignitions, to our work in preparing the district for the fire season. Read on for our full annual report.

Finally, our sincere thanks to our members for your support in making the district safer against wildfire, at an important time when the impacts of a changing climate are being clearly felt. 

Louise Wessels

Manager: Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association

Tel: +27 (0) 28 425 1690 | Fax: +27 (0) 86 585 2348 | Email: info@overbergfpa.co.za
Address: Fire Station, Long Street, Bredasdorp

There is often confusion about what we as the goFPA and the Fire Services do. In South Africa, Fire Services are government agencies responsible for firefighting and enforcing fire safety regulations, while Fire Protection Associations are non-profit organisations focused on promoting fire prevention and safety through education, training and collaboration with various stakeholders. FPAs work proactively to prevent fires and minimise their impact through community engagement and advocacy.

I want to start by acknowledging the massive cooperation and efforts of the members, non-members, and the public in providing quick reporting and quality data to the goFPA. ​

The significant improvement in reporting and data quality, which has contributed to the support of our Fire Chiefs, increased public understanding of wildfires, and the realisation of the impact of climate change, which has had a dramatic effect on our region in the past year. ​

The importance of controlled burns is recognised ​​and so is the support we have received in respect of planning and the execution of controlled burns. For that we commend our Fire Services and landowners. 

With regards to burning permit inspections and advice, the active involvement of the goFPA in helping landowners obtain burning permits makes a difference. I would like to thank the Overberg District and Overstrand Local Municipalities for their assistance in supporting members with the issuing of burning permits. ​

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to my board, the management team, all members, partners and stakeholders for their support and collaboration. We are privileged to have an effective and committed board and together with our operational team are prepared and excited about taking our FPA forward into the future. 

In the meantime, enjoy our 2023/24 digital annual report.

Jo Neser
Chairperson: Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association

MEMBERSHIP

goFPA MEMBERSHIP AREA SUMMARY

THEEWATERSKLOOF

54%

(174 636 ha)

OVERSTRAND

65%

(110 341ha)

SWELLENDAM

54%

(208 288 ha)

CAPE AGULHAS

69%

(239 997 ha)

Fee Structure

goFPA FEE SCHEDULE : 1 April 2025 – 31 Mar 2026

ONCE-OFF
JOIN FEE:

Municipalities, Parastatals e.g. Eskom, Telkom, State land
R 2 407

All other
R 600

ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP FEES: 

Land owner and governmental conservation areas

e.g. CapeNature, OTB. Farm portions with the same land manager/owner/lessee and trading under the same name are recognised as one member and therefore pay one collective fee.

 

Industrial or Developments (Gated estates & Resorts)

Parastatals: Eskom, Telkom, Sanral, Transnet – as per agreement. This might be subjected to certain umbrella negotiations

Please note that the fees above exclude VAT at 15 %.

 

Changes to the GOFPA CONSTITUTION

Constitutional Amendments to the goFPA Constitution include the following:

1. By inserting the following definition, in alphabetical order, after the definition of “Board Members” in clause 1.1-

 Department” means the national department as defined in section 1 of the Act;

2. By inserting the following definition, in alphabetical order, after the definition of “Members” in clause 1.1-

“”Minister” means the Minister as defined in section 2 of the Act;”

3. By inserting the following two definitions, in alphabetical order, after the   definition of “Register” in clause 1.1 –

“”Regulations” means the regulations promulgated in terms of the Act and more specifically those relating to Fire Protection Associations”;”

“”Rules” means the Association’s rules as contemplated in section 5(1)(c) of the Act read with section 5(4) of the Act, which rules as at 31 May 2024 are to be attached to this Constitution, but which Rules may be updated on the Association’s then current website;”

4. By renumbering the sub-clauses if clause 1.1 after the above insertions, so that it now has 28 sub-clauses instead of 24.

5. By inserting the following clause after the word “prevent” in the second line of clause 7.1 (Objects and Powers of the Association) –

“(which includes but is not limited to identifying ecological conditions that affect any fire danger, organising and training Members in firefighting, management and prevention, providing management services, training and support for communities in their efforts to manage and control veldfires)”

6. By inserting the following clause as clause 7.2 after clause 7.1.7 (Objects and Powers of the Association).

Our 2024-25 Board members are:

Chairman

JO NESER
(Former Executive at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, Olive farmer - Van Der Stel Pass area)

Member

LESTER SMITH
(Overstrand Local Municipality)

Vice-Chair

CHRIS MARTENS
(Sondagskloof FMU and conservationist)

 

Member

JOSE DE KOCK
(Chair of Napier Agri Association, represents the Napier area)

Member

ALBRECHT SMUTS
(Ruggens FMU leader and wheat farmer)

Member

HERMAN VAN DYK
(Overberg Wealth and Risk Management)

Fire Protection Officer

REINARD GELDENHUYS
(Overberg District Municipality)

#PREPARATION

PRE-FIRE SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

 

Training OF MEMBERS

Every year, goFPA offers a basic fire-line safety training session to our members and their staff based on the indicated need across the district. This year we trained 250 people, including the newly established volunteer firefighters from Greyton. We want to recognise the assistance and support from the Fire Services. 

TRAINING ATTENDEES

250

MEETINGS WITH FARMERS

Our team endeavoured to attend as many farmers’ association meetings in the Overberg as we could. This is typically a fantastic platform to touch base with members and identify needs, challenges and accomplishments. This year we attended Napier, Caledon, Jongensklip, Strandveld & Stanford FA’s meetings. The success of these meetings is attributed to Fire Services also attending these meetings and directly addressing difficult issues and involving landowners to find practical and wildfire-safe solutions.

EVENTS & MEETINGS

  • Stellenbosch University – RADAR Programme presentation
  • WEBS Invasive alien clearing projects
  • Western Cape Umbrella FPA 
  • Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative 
  • Overberg District Safety Forum
  • Overberg Disaster Management Forum
  • Stellenbosch Flood Impact Research Project
  • Cape Town Water Fund – Overberg Projects
  • Western Cape, Department of Agriculture: LandCare cooperation
  • Conservation at Work Symposium
  • Meeting with Premier Alan Winde

MEMBERS’ SUPPORT

CONTROL BURN PLANNING

While these burns require considerable planning between the Fire Services and stakeholders, due to strong rains in September, some of the planned burns did not take place. These burns were completed: Lomond, Grootbos, Gabrielskloof, Kleinswartberg, Amandel River, Haygrove, Karwyderskraal. Six more were planned but were not completed. 

BURN PERMIT INSPECTIONS

The goFPA is actively involved in the process of helping landowners obtain burn permits and assisting the Fire Services in this process as necessary. This involves conducting many site visits, inspections, and advisory sessions with the landowners throughout the year. 

BURN PERMIT SUPPORT FOR ODM

This year we noticed a substantial increase in the number of burn permits issued. We thank our members for continuing to adhere to these requirements, and we thank both Overberg District, and Overstrand Local Municipalities for assisting our members in this regard. 

Burn permits
issued by municipalities

502

OVERBERG AIR FORCE BASE BURN PLAN

The Air Force approached the goFPA for assistance and guidance in formalising a plan to establish a burn regime. This was a lengthy, but interesting project, involving several inspections and planning sessions.  The goFPA mapped the entirety of the base, outlining critical firebreak infrastructure, and the initial 8-year regime to burn the base grounds in a mosaic pattern.

GENERAL MEMBER ASSISTANCE

In some instances, there are members who request a greater degree of input from the goFPA team with regard to planning and fire-risk mitigations. The goFPA welcomes these requests and we hope to improve our footprint in this area. 

In 2023, some of this help included: 

  • Legal support: Including fire spread, fire suppression etc. investigations and efforts to influence positive changes to insurance options for our landowners; as well as roles/responsibility of IC and Fire Chief for executing control burns.
  • The Gaia Sanctuary: Provided advice on general fire-mitigation measures.
  • Farm 679
  • Newfrance Area, Botriver: Support to Fire Services and risk-reduction actions.
  • Wildekrans: Follow-up sessions on fire-break plans.
  • Agulhas National Park: Training, fire breaks, resources.
  • Bontebok National Park: Several meetings and planning sessions for fire breaks and upcoming controlled burns, as well as involvement in the revision of the general management plan.
  • Sunnydale – Stanford/Hermanus: Integrated fire and invasive alien plant management plan.
  • Hemel & Aarde Valley: Assistance with planning a strategic fire break on the southern foot of the Babilonstoring mountain range.

FLOOD RESPONSE

Although large-scale weather events, like the flood in September 2023, are not necessarily directly related to wildfires, they often have a tremendous impact on our members. For this reason, the goFPA team actively assisted the Overberg Disaster Management centre with the flood response and management in various capacities. 

Communications
platforms: A look back

 

The goFPA receives additional communications support from LoveGreen Communications. They provide website, email and social media support where required – in particular linked to specific campaigns decided on and driven by the goFPA team. While there was less focus on driving people to the website in the past year, the emphasis was rather on ensuring our members visited important web pages, including the Burn Permits page, as well as information on the Fire Season. Social media remains a vital channel to relay accurate information quickly and our following, reach and engagement continues to grow across our platforms.

We would like to acknowledge LoveGreen for the creative support.

Communications campaigns

We ran our Fire Season campaign over the 2023/24 Fire Season.

The goal was to share important information to help prepare landowners, members and town residents for a possible wildfire. This included regular social posts reminding our audience who to contact should they need to report a wildfire.

The website was also updated with relevant fire season information for our members. 

 

WEBSITE

ACQUISITION

2023 vs 2024 (% change)

MEDIA

MEDIA ARTICLES & FEATURES
  • EWN (Feb 2024): Vyeboom fire still out of control
  • News24 (Jan 2024): Fires in the Overberg out of control
  • News24 (Dec 2023): Overberg firefighters ready to combat fires this season
  • Heart FM (Dec 2023): Overberg district launches fire readiness campaign
  • Overstrand Municipality (Nov 2023): Smoke warning in Hermanus area
  • Overstrand Municipality (April 2023): Successful prescribed burn completed in Betty’s Bay

PARTNER FOCUS

  • Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve (Jan 2024): Securing water
  • Western Cape Gov (March 2024): Premier spends Human Rights Day with Overberg firefighters

SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook
20 240 followers

(GROWTH: 6%)

X
2 836 followers

(GROWTH: 0.5%)

 

Instagram
1 451 followers

(GROWTH: 4%)

 

FACEBOOK ENGAGEMENT

241 200 Reach (64% growth)

#FIRESEASON

2023/24 fire season

The past fire season proved to be a busy one for the Overberg and Overstrand Fire Services, as well as the goFPA management team.

One of the most devastating fires during the season was the Buffeljags widlfire. This fire burned in the Buffeljags area close to Die Damme, moving into the Agulhas National Park, and burning onto private landowners’ properties that are part of the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area. This fire  burnt for about a week, with a total of 18 453 hectares burnt.

Our thanks to the cooperation with landowners during the season, who collaborated closely with authorities to help bring wildfires under control.

INCIDENT RESULTS

  • Cape Agulhas (72 fires) 7% 7%
  • Swellendam (172 fires) 17% 17%
  • Overstrand (235 fires) 24% 24%
  • Theewaterskloof (525 fires) 52% 52%

goFPA VELD FIRE INCIDENTS MAP

Hover over the map and click on the fire icon for more information on the wildfire incident, including the date of the fire and a description of the fire.

The 2023/24 fire season burn scar

BURN SCARS MAP

Swipe right to see details of the burn scar in the region, including the date of the fire, and the number of hectares burned.

Thank you to our members, Fire Services in the Overstrand and Overberg, our stakeholders and partners for working with the goFPA team, and helping to make our district safer against wildfires. A sincere thank you also to our goFPA Board for their support to the management team. We look forward to working together in the coming year, as we promote fire prevention and safety.

reduction | readiness | response | recovery

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