Taking note of your region’s Fire Danger Index not only makes you aware of the risk of fire on the day. It can also help to save lives.
South Africa’s Fire Danger Index is based on a fire danger rating system. This gives you a daily update about the threats of fire should a fire ignite in your area. And it provides information on what you can and cannot do, based on the fire rating of that day.
It’s also not merely a nice-to-have: The need for a rating system is set out in the National Veld and Forest Fire Act 101 of 1998. Chapter 3 notes that a fire danger rating system can help prevent wildfires. And Section 9 places the responsibility on the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (today the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment) to prepare and maintain the rating system for South Africa, working with the SA Weather Services and Fire Protection Associations.
Risk is low and the rating is insignificant. Flame lengths may reach between 0 to 1m.
Risk is moderate and the rating is low. Flame lengths could reach between 1 and 1.2m.
Risk is dangerous and the rating is medium. This means veld fires start easily and spread rapidly. They’ll spread up to 25m per minute with flame lengths between 1.2 and 1.8m.
Risk is very dangerous and the rating is high. It means that veld fires start easily and spread very quickly. They’ll spread up to 35m per minute, with flame lengths between 1.8 and 2.4m. Fires ignite readily so mechanical activities such as welding, grinding, brush cutting and using chain saws in the open air should be avoided.
Risk is extremely dangerous and the rating is extremely high. Destructive veld fires are therefore likely in fynbos and invasive trees. They spread up to 60m per minute with flame lengths in excess of 2.4m.
But here’s a caveat: Wildfires don’t just ignite on dangerous days. Fires can happen on low FDI days too, especially leading up to or in fire season. For example, even on a green day, we’re warned that fires can spread at moderate speeds in open areas. Therefore, it’s good to be prepared for a wildfire, even on a low FDI day, and to report smoke or signs of fire immediately, irrespective of the colour of the day.
Where can you see the FDI for the Overberg?
The Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association shares the Overberg’s FDI daily on our Facebook during the fire season. Keep an eye out on our social media to know your daily responsibilities.
More tips on what you can and cannot do on a red day, here.