The City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Services section urges all residents to be especially cautious during these warmer months, up until April, when Cape Town is at a high risk for runaway vegetation fires. The combination of high temperatures and gale-force south-easterly winds in Cape Town is a major contributing factor in the rapid spread of fires.
The City has employed 120 seasonal firefighters on a contract basis from November to March, who are deployed at various fire stations to assist firefighters during the summer months.
They are trained to fight veld fires and provide additional capacity in any type of fire situation.
This year the fire and rescue Service has also started training reservist Firefighters to assist the permanent firefighters. They will, over time, be trained to the same level as the professional firefighters. The Reservists will have to volunteer at least 24 hours of their time per month.
Vegetation fires that occur in mountainous areas are particularly dangerous because of inaccessibility and limited water supply. The City’s Fire and Rescue Services teams deal with over 8 000 vegetation fires every year – most of which occur in the summer months.
Informal settlements are at a high risk for the rapid spread of structural fires.
The rate of spread is directly influenced by the materials used in the construction of settlements and the distance between each structure.
Vandalism of fire hydrants is another serious concern. The City appeals to residents to respect its infrastructure and report damaged equipment to the Call Centre on 0860 103 089.
The City appeals to residents to please heed the following safety tips:
- No fires are allowed on the mountain fringe areas, except in specifically demarcated areas and pre-authorised areas. If you are unsure whether fires are allowed in an area, do not make a fire.
- Do not discard burning cigarettes from your vehicle. They are pollutants and one of the causes of vegetation fires. Please dispose of cigarettes in the vehicle ashtray.
- Ensure that fire hydrants remain unobstructed at all times, especially by parked vehicles. Tampering with hydrants can delay a fire fighter’s ability to bring a fire under control timeously.
- Ensure your braai fire is completely extinguished before leaving areas where fires are allowed.
- Keep ignition sources such as matches and lighters out of reach of children.
- Comply with the legal requirements for burning vegetation off-cuts (please refer to the City’s Community Fire Safety By-law available on www.capetown.gov.za and the National Veld and Forest Act for more information).
Using electricity safely
- Do not overload your electrical circuits, i.e. don’t keep more than four plugs on one extension.
- Service your electrical components regularly and replace faulty ones.
- Switch off all electrical appliances at the wall at night or when leaving your home.
- When you are cooking (on any sort of stove – gas, electric or paraffin) do not leave the pot on the stove unless you are watching it.
- Electrical connections must be professionally installed and properly earthed with the correct circuit breakers installed.
Using paraffin safely
- Always have a bucket of sand nearby when using a paraffin appliance. Water will not extinguish a paraffin fire and can make matters worse by spreading the flames.
- Paraffin fires can only be extinguished using sand or a fire extinguisher.
- Keep a well-maintained fire extinguisher in your home, and know how to use it.
- If you have a garden hose, keep it rolled up and ready in case of fire.
- Where possible, have more than one exit from your house.
- Have an escape plan, and make sure that the whole family knows the plan.
- Cut candles in half to prevent them falling over – and use a candle holder.
- Do not smoke in bed.
Remember to always call for the City’s Fire and Rescue
Services via 107 (from a landline) or 021 480 7700 (from a Cell phone) before making any attempt to fight a fire yourself.
More information is available on the City’s Fire and Rescue Service website at http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/FireAndRescue/Pages/default.aspx