Trail run and firefighter fun at VWS Awareness Day

The inter-agency wildfire firefighting display with aerial support from pilot Mark Jackson in a Working on Fire (WOF) helicopter caused great excitement. Pictures: Andrew Hagen

Informative, fun and enjoyable. That is how members of the public described the Fire and Fynbos Awareness Day hosted by Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS), at Elsenburg College outside Stellenbosch, on Sunday April 23.

The awareness day was preceded by the Race for Water trail runs. Both the 14km and 6km routes offered stunning views all the way from Simonsberg to Cape Town and were well supported.

Families who took on the shorter route, as well as runners who brought their children, stayed on after the race to join in the awareness day activities. Approximately 2 000 people, including Premier Helen Zille and Cape Winelands District Executive Mayor Helena von Schlicht, attended the event.

Highlights included wildfire firefighting demonstrations by a VWS crew and other firefighting agencies with aerial support provided by pilot Mark Jackson in a Working on Fire (WOF) helicopter.

Other entertainment included snake shows, fire truck rides, a climbing wall and the ever-popular foam party.

“The main theme of this year’s Fire and Fynbos Awareness Day was the “Race for Water”, highlighting the current crisis we face as a community and the important role that we as volunteer firefighters play in trying to safeguard our water catchment areas. On this day we get to showcase VWS Jonkershoek and why we as individuals choose to give back to the community through firefighting. It is also an opportunity to thank those whom we fight alongside, other emergency services, and the public for their support,” said Hayley Hagen, a member of the organising team.

“Seeing the crowds cheering and clapping during our inter-agency firefighting display was a definite highlight for me. Most of what our firefighters and emergency services do is out of the public eye, so for the public to see and appreciate the value of their work was amazing,” she said.

“The Fire and Fynbos Awareness Day remains an important day on the VWS calendar to raise awareness of both the need for and dangers presented by wildfires, especially given the current drought. It is also an important fundraising initiative,” said Wayne van den Heuvel, station manager of the VWS Jonkershoek base.

The day was organised and presented by VWS volunteers, friends and family.

On Sunday May 14, trail runners can participate in the second of two events in the VWS trail running series. Experience beautiful Deer Park and the slopes of Devils Peak and Table Mountain with brand new routes this year including the Table Mountain contour path.

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