For over two years land owners have been in discussion about forming a district-wide Fire Protection Association (FPA) and it is finally becoming a reality.
With the support of the Overberg DM Chief Fire Officer, Reinard Geldenhuys and the coordination by the GEF FynbosFire Operational Support Officer for the Overberg, Henrietta Brock, documents and arrangements are being finalised for the amalgamation. Bredasdorp Vlakte FPA, Swellendam – Ruggens FPA, Overberg Theewaterskloof FPA, Theewaterskloof Groenland FPA, Babylonstoring FPA and Sondagskloof FPA are getting ready to amalgamate in December this year and Hagelkraal FPA, Napier FPA and the Haasvlakte region will join once they are ready. This means that for the beginning the Greater Overberg FPA will encompass the entire Overberg District Municipality except for the Stanford to Struisbaai region south of the Bredasdorp Mountains and the Napier region.
Our neighbours in the Eden DM have already joined into the Southern Cape FPA and the Greater Cederberg FPA covers large portions of the West Coast DM and the advantages are clearly visible. Small FPAs are run by volunteers with fulltime day jobs with only small amounts of funds available to employ support staff, where a large FPA has a bigger pool of funds available as well as access to more outside funding opportunities, allowing for the employment of fulltime staff members to run the FPA. This increases the capacity of the FPA to shift its focus from reactive firefighting to proactive integrated fire management which includes risk assessments, strategic fire break planning, implementing preventative measures such as controlled burning and helping farmers to comply with the National Veld and Forest Fire Act.
In September the draft findings of a GEF (an initiative by the UN Development Programme and World Bank) funded study about FPAs in the Cape Floristic Region were released showing strong support for district wide FPAs that work side-by-side with government and government funded resources – mostly the District Fire Brigade Services and the Working on Fire initiative – to manage fires. The study also recommends breaking the district-wide FPA up into Fire Management Units (FMUs) for easier management. FMUs will be designed around existing landowner groupings such as the smaller FPAs and Farmers’ Unions where suitable and separate areas with different fire management needs such as different land use types and different geographic locations, while also keeping properties often affected by the same fires together.
The official launch of the Greater Overberg FPA is planned for the beginning of next year. Any questions can be directed to Henrietta Brock on 028 425 1690 or firstname.lastname@example.org.