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Managing Fire Risk

Ingwelala is part of the Greater Kruger Fire Protection Association (GKFPA) and as a Member of this FPA is duty bound to follow the protocols of the FPA. The following communication from the GKFPA is applicable to all fires on Ingwelala. Simply equate it to Ingwelala infrastructure and facilities.

It is essential to have a steel drum available at any fire pit to be able to immediately extinguish a fire. This time of the year is high risk for unattended and unplanned fires spreading and turning into disaster.

Restrictions on lighting of fires in the Greater Kruger Fire Protection Association (GKFPA) 

28/July 2015
 

In terms of the National Veld and Forest Fire Act 101 of 1998 and the rules of the GKFPA as stipulated in the Business Plan of the GKFPA, a restriction on the making of fires will come into effect from 01 August 2015 until it is lifted later in the year.

This means that no fires may be made without a permit, except where a cooking fire (including a braai fire) or a ‘social fire’ is to be made, and according to the requirements specified below; or in cases where the fire is deemed essential for the combatting of a runaway fire, i.e. a ‘back-burn’. This must however be reported to the FPO and to neighbours, as is required by law.

The requirements which apply to a cooking or a social fire are the following, though such places are subject to the approval of the local Section Ranger or Fire Manager, who may set specific conditions as he/she deems fit.

 The fire must be made at a designated picnic or braai place, or in the yard of residential property, or in another area approved by the Section Ranger or Fire Manager. In the KNP, where such a fire is to be made in the veld (‘bush braai’), a Hot-Work permit must be obtained.

  • In all cases, the ground within a minimum radius of 4 m from where the fire is to be made must be clear of all combustible material, to reduce the possibility of the veld igniting.
  • In instances where a ‘social’ fire is made e.g. in a lapa, the fire may only be made where the ground is cleared of all combustible material for a radius of at least 5 m from the fire place. During windy conditions, the fire must be kept small and preferably be extinguished.
  • The fire must at all times be under the control of an adult.
  • In the case of security forces and Field Rangers deployed in the veld, it must be brought to their attention that fires may not be made in the veld at any time, be it before or after fire restrictions have been applied.
  • In the KNP, all other outdoor activities which may ignite a fire unintentionally must be covered by a Hot-Work permit. If in doubt, contact the nearest Section Ranger or the GKFPA Fire Protection Officer.
  • In the case of all veld burns (i.e. management burns), where these are to be undertaken after the effective date of this restriction, a burning permit must be requested from the GKFPA. Requests must be submitted to the Fire Protection Officer at least a week before the scheduled burn is to take place, be it a high-intensity or low-intensity, as defined in the GKFPA Business Plan.

 The responsibility for the protection of huts and other buildings and infrastructure inside camps, lodges etc. lies with the mangers of these facilities who must:

  • Ensure that fires do not jump into the veld and start a veld-fire.
  • Inform guests about the dangers of making large fires, especially on windy conditions because fires can also ignite the thatching of huts etc., as has happened on a number of occasions in the past.
  • The burning of waste at waste sites is governed by approved protocols. It is the responsibility of supervisors of these sites to ensure that these protocols are followed.
  • The local Section Ranger or Fire Manager however has the authority to apply stricter conditions, should he/she deem it necessary to do so, or to apply a total ban on the burning of waste for a limited period.
  • It is also not permissible to burn garden refuse directly on the ground, in a drum or any other container other than in an incinerator. For guidelines on the correct procedures and safety, consult the local Section Ranger or Fire Manager.
  • Staff members or the persons who give the instruction to light a fire without complying with the above-mentioned regulations will be subjected to disciplinary action and may also face criminal charges in terms of the Veld and Forest Fire Act 101 of 1998.

It is important that Managers and Supervisors read and explain the contents of this notification to staff within their departments or other areas of responsibility. The restrictions will remain in force until such time that fire hazard conditions have past at the end of the dry season and staff members will be informed of the relaxation of these restrictions.

Both the National Environmental Management (NEMA): Protected Areas Act, 57/2003 and National Veld Forest Fire Act are very clear on the penalties (fines, imprisonment or both) and/or disciplinary action which be imposed on persons who are found guilty of not complying with the law or the rules of the Business Plan of the GKFPA.

Staying with the theme of fire risk, kindly read through the following information supplied by Ingwelala’s insurance broker:

Subject: Fires and Thatched Structures  

Winter is upon us which means more people will be using different means to keep warm over the next few months.
With these come unforeseen dangers with fire places, chimneys and electrical installations around thatched structures.

Electrical

  • Check and test the electrical installation by a qualified electrical contractor at least every 5 years. 
  • Loft wiring should be in conduit but not attached to rafters which carry the thatch.
  • Do not place high wattage security lights near the thatch / overhangs. 
  • Do not cut recessed lighting into the ceilings below the thatch. 
  • Use bulk head light fittings in the roof space 
  • Overhead electric supply cables need to be prevented from coming in to contact with the thatched roof or nearby trees. 

 

by John Llewellyn.