There are a number of reasons why you and your neighbours should get together to form a Fire Protection Association.
- Effective fire-fighting equipment can be expensive – motor-powered units or blowers are beyond the means of most individual smallholders, but if you club together you can buy proper equipment.
- If you can rally a number of people to help put out a veld fire in your area, you are far more likely to contain the fire before it does irreparable damage.
- Neighbours can assist in the training of plot personnel in what to do when there is a fire.
- You might also develop a relationship with the municipal fire department, which will help in an emergency situation.
- If a number of you are watching out for fires in an area you are probably going to become aware of a fire almost as soon as it starts.
- You will also learn from each other in terms of preventative measures and if you all work together to create fire breaks on all your plots, the work will go quicker.
- Finally, a sense of community and camaraderie is also going to develop out of such gatherings.
You could have an informal arrangement amongst a group of neighbouring plot dwellers, who exchange information and help each other out. Or you can set up a formally constituted Fire Protection Association (FPA).
The National Veld & Forest Fire Act lays down the requirements for the formation of a formal FPA.
An FPA can be formed by any group of plot dwellers who regularly experience fires on their smallholdings.
Chapter 2 of the National Veld and Forest Fires Act is devoted to FPAs.
Steps to set up an FPA
- Call a meeting with interested qualifying individuals.
- If there is an existing fire service, you must give a written notice to that association that you want to form another fire protection association and invite their chief fire officer to the meeting.
- Take minutes of the meeting, which must indicate whether or not there was unanimous support for the formation of the FPA.
- Write and sign a written agreement stating that you form part of the association.
- Elect a chairperson and an executive committee.
- Give a name for the fire protection association and the description of your area.
- Keep an attendance register with contact details, including the postal address, of all individuals who attended the meeting.
- Download, complete and submit the Dept of Agriculture’s Form 1 for approval by the department.
- An FPA must develop a constitution. The regulations of the Act provide a model constitution which you can adapt to suit your circumstances. It will include the name and address of the FPA and a description of the area of the FPA that your members can understand. You can attach a map if you prefer. Also add a statement noting that the constitution is in accordance withthe Veld Fire Act of 1998 and the regulations under it.
You must list aims of the FPA, which are to predict, prevent, manage and extinguish veldfires in its area and its duties set out in the Act.
- You then need to develop a firefighting strategy and rules and processes to be followed during a veldfire. Your strategy will demonstrate understanding of the veldfire problem in your area and the competencies necessary to deal with it. Your FPA must identify risks and will be able to communicate the reasons for the rules that will be applied.
- Then you also need to develop operational plans, including fire prevention plans, fire preparedness, fire suppression and co-ordination plans.
- If the department approves your application, you must then download and submit Form 2. Attach the minutes of the meeting, the FPA’s constitution and the FPA’s business plan, which includes its veldfire management strategy and rules.
It would be useful to find out if there are other FPAs near yours, as they might be able to offer administrative assistance, as well as practical assistance in the event of a fire.
The Act refers to Umbrella FPAs.
This is the final in a five-part series, Preparing for Fire Season. For more, click here.