Whether you live in a town or on a farm in the Overberg, or even if you’re just visiting for the holidays, be wildfire ready this fire season.
Fire season officially starts on 1 December 2021. This is the time when everyone should be hyper vigilant to the dangers of wildfires.
According to Louise Wessels, Manager of the Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association (goFPA), the changing climate is creating concerns for fire officials around the world.
“The effects of climate change are very evident globally. We’ve seen megafires burn in Europe and the Americas. And here in South Africa, more than 2 million hectares of veld burnt in the past year already.”
In the Western Cape, we have already seen marked temperature increases, rainfall variation, and more importantly for us, an increased frequency of severe weather events. These trends are projected to continue and worsen. The Overberg, too, has not escaped vast numbers of fires. To see a summary of recent fires in the Overberg, see our goFPA annual report.
The goFPA has a number of tips for Overberg residents this summer.
1. Don’t assume someone else has reported a fire.
If you see smoke or fire, please report it. Louise says that a quick response this fire season will be vital to bring wildfires under control quickly. “If you see smoke or flames, don’t waste any time considering whether you should call. Rather please call immediately. And the more information you can provide, the better,” she says.
2. Save these numbers to report fire.
Save the following numbers to your phone, so you can get in touch with the fire departments in the Overberg quickly:
If you see a fire in the Overstrand municipal region, please call: 028 312 2400. For anywhere else in the Overberg, please call: 028 425 1690. Also call your neighbours and inform the goFPA (063 690 7899).
3. Know which sources you can trust.
During a wildfire, many people may provide unverified or inaccurate updates, opinions and advice on the fire. Information that you can trust will be shared on the goFPA Facebook page, the Overberg District Municipality Facebook page and the Overstrand Municipality Facebook page. Louise says, “Please don’t share information that has not been verified. Inaccurate information can make it more difficult for our fire fighters to do their job.”
4. Check your insurance.
The use of aerial support is available to private landowners, based at Bredasdorp between 1 December 2021 up to the end of April 2022. Aerial resources are activated via the Fire Chief and/or his authorised Incident Commander. Landowners must complete an “MOU”, which must be signed. Landowners must also telephonically confirm the request before the service provider will activate the service. It’s ideal to prepare for such a “call” now – the additional time (and stress) to follow the protocols during a wildfire can be very difficult.
- The MOU can be completed and emailed to us, should you need aerial assistance. Download the MOU here, complete and email to: email@example.com. Aerial resources cannot be activated without your verbal (telephonic) confirmation to the service provider.
- Risk of spread and wildfire suppression insurance: We request that landowners check with your insurance broker to understand the options (and costs) you have available to you, to prevent the spread and/or to protect your property from a wildfire.
Louise says the Overberg Fire Services are currently ensuring the necessary resources are in place, and that landusers and personnel are being trained to be ready for the coming fire season. The goFPA is currently hard at work training farmers and farm staff in basic wildfire suppression and safety and had trained more than 400 people by the end of November.
Louise says, “We need everyone’s help this fire season, to protect our Overberg environment, economy, and above all, lives!