Cape summer fires: Fires are caused by people, most are preventable - JP Smith
Our decent rainfall this winter has been welcomed in terms of filling our dams, but will they have a potentially negative side-effect by way of stronger vegetation growth and hence lead to a greater fire risk once the summer heat beats down?
Refilwe Moloto speaks to Alderman JP Smith, mayoral committee member for Safety and Security for the City of Cape Town, on how the city is gearing up for the upcoming fire season.
We must work towards starting to debunk the idea that there is a fire season in summer because we have a fire season all year round.JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security - City of Cape Town
There are just different types of fire seasons at different times, he elaborates.
In summer Cape Town has a bushfire season and in winter a predominantly informal structure fire season as people use fire for lighting, cooking, and heat.JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security - City of Cape Town
This past year we saw a reduction in fires in almost all of our fire categories, but sadly an increase in the loss of life as many of these fires are fatal, and very often people do not escape them.JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security - City of Cape Town
The City's education programmes of which around 900 are carried out per year, helps to control the winter fire season, he acknowledges. The City also distributes smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
Bushfires are more difficult to manage, as it encompasses a very long area around the periphery of the city, he notes.
The main thing there is the maintenance of fire breaks and the clearing of vegetation around those.JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security - City of Cape Town
The City's fire department inspects those and engages with the relevant property owners.
Much of that is SANParks, the predominant owner of most of that burnable bush.JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security - City of Cape Town
He says the significant rains this year have resulted in more growth of vegetation and therefore more material that can burn.
But not a lot of it is perhaps very dry at the moment, but towards the end of the summer season it will be a lot drier and more volatile.JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security - City of Cape Town
To this end the City of Cape Town brings on board 120 seasonal firefighter from 1 November to 30 April.
What preventative measures can Capetonians take in general?
One risk area is where there is no formal electrical infrastructure, he notes. The second major contributor to all fires is negligence, he says.
All fires are caused by people, and most of those fires are preventable.JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security - City of Cape Town
Listen to the interview below:
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