Hero firefighters back in SA

By Drum Digital
26 November 2015

By Ayanda Sitole

A group of South African wildfire fighters will return home this week, after a successful deployment to Indonesia where they helped local fire fighters battle destructive fires in South Sumatra.

The first contingent of Working on Fire (WoF) personnel will arrive at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg Today. WoF personnel from Australia who were part of the same deployment will arrive in back in Perth soon afterwards.

WoF fire fighters from South Africa and Australia were deployed to Indonesia in early November, to assist with fires that had already been raging for over six weeks. Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) called for WoF to help their pulpwood suppliers’ firefighting and management teams due to extraordinary El Nino climatic conditions.

“Once these fires were brought under control, our teams worked on other fires in the same region. We look forward to welcoming the first batch of our colleague’s home this week, while the rest will return to South Africa next week,” said Leon Conradie, Managing Director for WoF Asia Pacific.

The WoF firefighters who are still in Indonesia will receive a courtesy visit from the South African Ambassador to the Indonesia, HE Pakamisa Augustine Sifuba, later this week.

Aida Greenbury, Managing Director of Sustainability at APP, described the WoF deployment to Indonesia as a textbook example of the effectiveness of partnerships.

“During their four weeks in Indonesia, the WoF teams developed a successful technique to deal specifically with fires which had penetrated the peat lands in Indonesia. The combined efforts and success of the APP, its pulpwood suppliers and the WoF team have laid the ground work for future fire prevention in Indonesia.”

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