Every year the Western Cape braces itself for possible fires. The Cape Winelands District Municipality is at the forefront of firefighting and has some valuable tips on how to protect yourselves while enjoying the outdoors.  

The Cape Winelands District Municipality (CWDM) fire services extinguish about 1 500 veld and wildfires per year, in a 22 309 km² area. The fire season runs from November 1 to April 30.

Around 93 % of wildfires are caused by humans, and only a few are due to lightning and animal activity. However, fighting fires is not the only task of the CWDM Division Fire Services. The Fire Services together with the Winelands Fire Protection Association (FPA) help landowners protect property and harvests by preparing fire breaks.

Landowners in the CWDM can contact the FPA or the fire services to enquire about these services. To deal with the demand, new firefighters are being trained regularly, while existing firefighters go for further skills training. There are currently 60 full-time firefighters and 60 reservists. The municipality works in partnership with CapeNature, the FPA and five private teams.

Not all fires are managed in the same way. The fire team decides what kind of action is required depending on the situation.

Sometimes fire services will allow part of a veld to burn so that it can replenish. Fires high up in die mountains are not always accessible and ground teams need to be flown in.

While the municipality invites all outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, trail runners, bird watchers, base jumpers, campers and the mountain bikers, they urge that visitors take note of the few safety tips below.  

STAY SAFE WHILE OUT AND ABOUT:

– Make sure you get the requisite permit for the area you want to visit. This is not only so that you contribute to the coffers, but also so that someone knows where you are!

– Stay alert to the possibility of veld fires at all times.

– Be aware of your environment. 

– Keep your mobile charged and have the local emergency services numbers saved before you venture out.

– Always tell someone where you will be hiking, cycling or camping and when they can expect your return.

– Never make a fire outside a designated area.

– Should you be trapped by a fire: Stay upwind from the fires and try to make your escape through an area with sparse, green vegetation.

The Cape Winelands, 1000 things to do…and then some wine.

Pictures: Supplied

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