The Department of Environmental Affairs’ Working on Fire (WoF) programme in Mpumalanga, in conjunction with the Mpumalanga Umbrella Fire Protection Association (MUFPA) and various other Fire Protection Associations (FPAs), bid farewell to 150 Working on Fire firefighters from the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal on Monday, 25 September 2017, who were deployed on standby operation in the province.
The deployment was aimed at minimising the personal and economic harm of wildfires as the winter fire season reached its peak. It was initiated and funded by landowners through the respective Fire Protection Associations.
150 WoF firefighters provided additional firefighting support throughout the month of September, enforcing the already established large contingent of FPA resources across the Mpumalanga province, with a focus on the Highveld region. Areas of concern included Ermelo, Warburton, Mayflower and Piet Retief.
According to the Mpumalanga Umbrella Fire Protection Association (MUFPA) Chairperson Duane Roothman, the proactive initiative of mobilising additional firefighters was a precautionary measure taken by MUFPA to minimise the personal and economic harm of wildfires.
“It goes without saying that the cost attached to wildfires is becoming more and more expensive, this is as a result of the ongoing effects of drought throughout the country. On behalf of MUFPA, I would like to urge landowners to join their local FPA and become active in strengthening the collaborative structures in the Province. I also urge the relative government institutions to join hands with FPAs and unite to protect the province from the potential devastation of wildfires,” Roothman said.
Martin Bolton, General Manager for Working on Fire in Mpumalanga, expressed that the deployment also served as a learning experience for WoF firefighters, especially those based in the Western Cape.