CHAPTER 5 Working on Fire
The Working on Fire programme was established in 2003 and funded mainly by the then Depart- ment of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) through the Working for Water programme. The main aim of the programme is to protect life, livelihoods and ecosystem services through integrated fire management.
Working on Fire programme achievements
Number of fires fought
1 000 1 200
200 400 600 800
0 2004/05 2005/06
Person-days worked 600
100 200 300 400
0 2004/05 2005/06 Source: Working on Fire Programme
Te goal of the Working on Fire programme is to protect life and livelihoods and ensure a sustainable and well balanced en- vironment. Te programme is advocating and assisting with good land management strategies and an integrated fire man- agement regime. At the same time, the programme contributes to black economic empowerment, skills development, social equity and accelerated service delivery that work towards pov- erty alleviation. Te empowerment of communities affected by fire gives them the opportunity to understand the benefits and potential harms related to wildfires.
(Photo: Working on Fire) Working on fire – key features:
• Wildfires, which occur annually in South Africa, often have serious consequences for the rural poor.
• Since 2004, Working on Fire has fought almost 4 000 wildfires, saving lives, feedstock and homes for people throughout the country.
• At the same time, Working on Fire has created job opportuni ties and contributed to the development of local economies.
– Wilmerie du Preez, Working on Fire, 2010 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10
Providing jobs while helping society
Working on Fire is regarded as one of the most effective poverty relief and skills development programmes in South Africa. Since 2004 the programme has trained almost 10 000 people, with more than 500 000 days of training. Workers have been trained to provide practical advice on how to protect lives, homes, livestock and crops from wildfires.
Of the programme employees, 93 per cent are between 18 and 36 years old, 29 per cent are women, 98 per cent are black and 2 per cent are people with disabilities. They are employed fulltime on a oneyear contract basis, and the contract can be renewed annually, based on the worker’s performance.
– Wilmerie du Preez, Working on Fire 18
How can YOU prevent wildfires?
• Practice integrated fire management. • Look after your own land by removing hazardous invasive alien plants.
• Establish fire breaks and ensure that you have sufficient equip ment and trained personnel available during firedanger weather.
• Cooperate with neighbours in your fire prevention and sup pression efforts.
• Prepare a plan of action to address: fire prevention, the loca tion of fire breaks, controlled burning pattern, and suppres sion of fire.