The annual Launch of the Fire Awareness Campaign was held at the Van der Stel Sportsground in Stellenbosch last month.
An event coordinated by Working on Fire (WOF) Programme in the Western Cape, in partnership with Provincial Disaster Management, and the Cape Winelands District Municipality, the event kicked-off with a convoy and drill by fire safety officials and featured a full programme with various speakers, presentations, exhibitions, activities and educational inserts, all geared towards raising awareness on fire safety.
Alderman Reggie Farao, from Cape Winelands District Municipality Fire Services, delivered the keynote address. He highlighted the International Day of Disaster Reduction and its role and purpose.
“The purpose of awareness campaigns is to prevent fire, reduce the risk to life caused by fire, reduce the risk of damage caused by fire and contain and control suppressed fire. He gave an overview of statistics on fires attended by the Cape Winelands District Fire Services.
“The community is immune to consequences of fire as risk cannot be entirely prevented effective evaluation and training is necessary to minimise loss of life and property. Controlled measures to mitigate the risk include pre-incident planning, educate fire services, deployment and staffing and effective emergency management techniques.
“Fire awareness campaigns are also not limited to this day as many entities such as local and district fire departments, provincial government, Working On Fire, fire protection associations, voluntary fire services and other concerned NPO’s regularly target these threatened communities to raise awareness by means of inspection, scrutiny and advising on fire, safety plans, school and fire station visits, various media demonstrations, plays and shows, door-to-door drives, etc, all disciplines to greatly reduce the loss of life and livelihoods; so this is very important for our fire services.”
Working on Fire’s Community Fire Awareness Officer, Rayganah Rhoda, spoke on the event’s objective. “It’s important for us to bring together all stakeholders and entities that have been instrumental in conducting fire awareness to our communities and our schools so that we ensure that communities firstly are able to notify the emergency services promptly.
“As turnaround times are very important as well as knowing how to evacuate safely; so if we have those two things implemented in communities and in schools, I think it’s almost half the battle won.
“Our main message is fire is everybody’s fight.”
Furthermore, other speakers addressed issues relating to fire safety and awareness in both urban and informal areas and included representatives from Provincial Disaster Management Centre, Stellenbosch Municipality, Department of Education, Paarl Girls High pupils, Childsafe, Shoprite, and the Community Development Worker programme.
Stellenbosch University Professor Richard Walls, head of the Fire Engineering Research Unit at SU, spoke on fire safety in informal areas, and informed the audience on progress made on the wildfire research front.
He informed audiences on progress made by his colleague researcher Dr Natalia Flores-Quiroz in establishing a scientific team in wildfire research.
The formal programme concluded with a live demonstration of a shack fire in a life size simulation of a shack.