Overberg-wide fire protection grouping planned
Fire Protection Associations (FPAs) across the Overberg are being encouraged to join a district-wide single FPA. A decision was taken at the Overberg District Municipality (ODM) Fire Working Group in September that FPAs within a district’s borders could amalgamate, in a process to be facilitated by the ODM.
The decision follows the release of a draft Fynbos Fire Scoping Report in September. The report, compiled under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Fynbos Fire Project, looked at improving integrated fire management strategies in the Overberg. It recommended that “FPAs be aligned with Districts given their (strong) resources in the Western Cape, institutional mandates and existing FPA structures”.
Wildfires are a major problem in the area, particularly with the large amount of natural veld and fynbos found here. The GEF Fynbos Fire Project is looking to address this threat by building capacity in FPAs and in local communities. This will help FPAs to better deal with wildfires, and to improve fire management including the use of prescribed burns. GEF granted $3.5-million for the project over the next three years.
The new proposed single FPA will still be made up of members, as voted in by members. But it will allow administration, training and planning to be centralised – with these management responsibilities covered by membership fees and by funders (such as the Fynbos Fire Project). A newly appointed Operational Support Officer, funded by the GEF project, will also improve communications with land users and assist as a dispatch function. Early warning systems will be put in place to spot potential fire risks.
The Fynbos Fire Scoping Report furthermore recommended that the district-wide FPA still be made up of fire management units – a proposal that has been accepted by current Overberg FPAs. As such, sub-units are likely to still exist as business units. These could retain the boundaries of current FPAs or farmers’ associations throughout the Overberg, and could continue to organise prescribed burns in these areas.
The ODM is currently in talks with FPAs to plan the structure of the single FPA. However, FPAs are not compelled to join the district-wide FPA, and can continue to operate individually, with the ODM’s support.
For more information, contact the Operational Support Officer, Henrietta Brock. Tel. 028 425 2690 or email: email@example.com
To read the draft Fynbos Fire Scoping Report, click here.