New firefighting base opened

2018-11-13 06:00
Roof wetting exercise as the new base officially opens.

Roof wetting exercise as the new base officially opens.

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Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) opened a new base in Noordhoek to help reduce the response times to fires further south in the Cape Peninsula.

The base, which was opened on Saturday was much needed as a large portion of firefighting resources are located around Newlands and the City Bowl.

With frequent wildfires becoming more erratic and intense in the Western Cape, a dedicated base with quick response capabilities will make the difference between containment, or large scale damage and loss to local communities who live in Cape Town’s South Peninsula.

VWS has been combating dangerous and sometimes deadly runaway wildfires since its baptism during the devastating 1999/2000 fires in Cape Town. With over 200 volunteer members at four stations (Newlands, Jonkershoek, South Peninsula and the newly developing Grabouw Station), VWS is a non-profit organisation, run and managed by a team of volunteers as well as a recently employed general manager.

The VWS has assisted the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP), CapeNature, Overberg District Municipality and Winelands District Municipality in fighting some of the wildest fires Cape Town and the Western Cape have experienced.

During the opening the need for this resource was emphasised. As is evident worldwide, ‘wildland’ fires are becoming more frequent and intense. Wildfire behaviour has also become more erratic and damaging, as seen over the last few years and more recently in the Southern Cape.

The South Peninsula base was identified due to the sizable amount of open ‘wildland’ owned mainly by TMNP as well as others. Certain areas are more prone to frequent fires, therefore having a base for operations in the area reduces the time it takes to get firefighters to a fire when called out. It also allows for a forward base of operations which is needed when fighting the big multi-day fires.

VWS Chairman, Jon-Jon Emary explains: “The VWS is entirely donor supported and the volunteers from the South Peninsula base are from the ‘valley’. These individuals freely give of their time to provide this service for the benefit of the greater community­.

“We have on many occasions actively fought fires that have threatened lives and property. This is a committed team that is highly trained and ready to protect the community when called upon to do so.”

Grant Richardson, station commander of the South Peninsula Base says: “For us as volunteers the special moment is when we come off the line, and see the response and appreciation from the community affected by a fire. It can be really emotional.”

The VWS warns that it expects this summer season to be no different and they urge the community to become “fire wise” and take all precautions around the use of fire, ensuring their homes are as protected as possible from the risk of fire, especially if they are on the borders of built up and open areas. V For more information about the South Peninsula base or how to get involved call Grant Richardson on 082 446 8229 or visit www.vws.org.za

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