Category: <span>Fire Fighting</span>

9 December 2022 Media Release: Garden Route DM is installing 700 smoke detectors in Kannaland

Media Release: Garden Route DM is installing 700 smoke detectors in Kannaland

For Immediate Release
9 December 2022

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) firefighters in collaboration with the Kannaland local municipality’s firefighters installed early smoke detection devices in Varkieskloof, an informal settlement in Ladismith during the past week. A total of 700 devices will be installed in Kannaland municipal area by the GRDM. The outlying areas such as Calitzdorp and Van Wyksdorp will also follow.  It is expected that the project will take at least three months to complete.

The smoke detection device project kicked-off earlier this year, when GRDM installed 1368 smoke detectors in Qolweni and Bossiesgif informal settlements in the Bitou municipal area, after several informal structures were destroyed by fire, which resulted in the deaths of three (3) Garden Routers.

The GRDM’s Disaster Management and Fire and Rescue Services are managing and implementing the project.  Over the past two day, ±178 smoke detectors were installed focusing on structures in the rural settlement.

Having a smoke detector in the home not only alerts residents to the presence of smoke, but also saves lives and minimises property damage.

Afrikaans

Die Garden Route Distriksmunisipaliteit (GRDM) se brandbestryders in samewerking met die Kannaland plaaslike munisipaliteit se brandbestryders het die afgelope week ‘vroeë rookopsporingstoestelle in Varkieskloof, ‘n informele nedersetting in Ladismith, geïnstalleer. Altesaam 700 toestelle sal deur die GRDM in Kannaland geïnstalleer word. Die buitegebiede soos Calitzdorp en Van Wyksdorp sal ook later volg. Daar word verwag dat die projek minstens drie maande sal neem om te voltooi.

Die rookopsporingstoestelprojek het vroeër vanjaar afgeskop toe GRDM 1368 rookverklikkers in Qolweni en Bossiesgif informele nedersettings in die Bitou munisipale gebied geïnstalleer het, nadat verskeie informele strukture deur brand vernietig is, wat tot die dood van drie (3) inwoners gelei het.

Die GRDM se Rampbestuur en Brand- en Reddingsdienste bestuur en implementeer die projek. Oor die afgelope twee week ±178 rookverklikkers geïnstalleer met die  fokus op strukture in die landelike nedersetting.

Om ‘n rookverklikker in die huis te hê, waarsku nie net inwoners van die teenwoordigheid van rook nie, maar red ook lewens en verminder eiendomskade.

-End-

9 December 2022 Media Release: GRDM is gearing up for the SUMMER SEASON!

Media Release: GRDM is gearing up for the SUMMER SEASON!

For Immediate Release
9 December 2022

In preparation for the Summer season, Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Fire Services hosted a joint Integrated Fire Management launch with district partners on Thursday, 01 December 2022.

A wide range of intergovernmental stakeholders attended the event, including representatives from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries & the Environment, Cape Nature, San Parks and GRDM Disaster Management.  Also in attendance were representatives from PG Bison Forestry, MTO Forestry, Kishugu Aviation (WOF), Working on Fire, and Nelson Mandela University.

The Executive Mayor of GRDM, Alderman Memory Booysen delivered the keynote address during which he emphasised the need for stronger collaboration and integration between the different stakeholders. “This will ensure better preparedness for the task at hand, as we deal with fires in a preventative rather than a punitive manner,” he said.

In his remarks, Mayor Booysen acknowledged the role played by the different stakeholders and noted the fact that there is no longer a beginning or end to the annual ‘fire seasons,’ especially in light of climate change.  He referred to the fuel loads in the region as a massive risk and called upon all governmental stakeholders to work better together. “Our discussions must shift to preparedness.  District Mayors need to address the fuel loads on all their various platforms.  It is imperative that fires are detected early, and we ought to use the technology available, such as cameras and satellites, to assist in the response and preparation,” he said.

In conclusion, Alderman Booysen mentioned that the work of the firefighting fraternity is not unnoticed, and the challenges they faced are well known to the district’s mayors. He praised the Working on Fire Program and pointed out how these firefighters walk, on the N2 and in the mountains, as a sign of their care and devotion.

Frank Smook, of WoF/Kishugu Aviation, spoke about coordinated operations and noted that Denneoord Airbase will be home to two Command & Control planes, two AT802 Bomber planes, and a helicopter. The importance of having all agencies working and pulling together was stressed by him. Also the importance of having fire apparatus and aerial resources ready at all times, as well as knowing your region’s fire danger index on any given day. Smook explained the significance of activating an aerial firefighting response, such as an initial attack, as soon as smoke is detected in high-risk areas, in order to suppress a fire quickly and efficiently. Lastly, he said good communication is essential, particularly WhatsApp groups, which assist in coordination and can be utilised for communication amongst agencies.

The Southern Cape Fire Protection Association’s Dirk Smit explained the importance of having sound systems in place, alluded to efforts to improve Integrated Fire Management, creating platforms to address the real issues and reinforcing partnerships in our region to make a difference.  He also pointed out that firefighters’ safety is very important and that this aspect must be a priority to ensure that they can perform the tasks at hand. He wished everyone a safe season.

In conclusion Deon Stoffels, GRDM Chief Fire Officer started his address as follows: “First and foremost, we are here to protect people and property, but it is equally vital to protect the environment, which provides a wealth of natural resources essential to the economy of the region, and that collaboration is imperative between stakeholders in fire management. Whilst protecting the urban areas, it is also equally important to protect the rural areas, including farmers and farm workers, crops, vineyards and infrastructure,” he said.

The Summer Season Operational Plan, inclusive of all stakeholder’s resource availability are in place and ready to be activated for each respective jurisdictional area when and if the need arises.

A special recognition was given to the Provincial Disaster Management Centre for the ‘PDMC First Hour’. This is available to the District for a period of 01 December 2022 to 31 March 2023 to ensure rapid aerial firefighting resources could be activated upon vegetation or mountain fire detection.

Fire Safety & Prevention is everyone’s responsibility and the public is urged to apply caution in their own individual spaces. It is however vitally important to alert the Fire Brigade Services immediately upon detecting any form of fire breakout.

-End-

7 October 2022 Media Release: Former Garden Route District Municipality Senior Firefighter, Denver Moses, passes away

Media Release: Former Garden Route District Municipality Senior Firefighter, Denver Moses, passes away

7 October 2022

Early this week, on 4 October 2022, a former Fire Senior Firefighter of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), Denver Moses, sadly passed away at the age of 49. Denver served the Garden Route district for a period of 14 years until 31 August 2022. Prior to him joining the GRDM firefighting team on 18 August 2008, he was also a firefighter at the City of Cape Town.

Moses was described by members of the GRDM Control Room as tall, friendly and calm with a generous personality – the same every day. “It was an extremely sad day on 22 September 2022, when we visited him. He held our hands and he spoke softly. In his eyes we could see he was fighting a difficult battle,” Tippie Bouwer, Control Room Supervisor said. Another colleague said: “He was taken from us at an unexpected time and he will be dearly missed”.

GRDM Chief Fire Officer, Deon Stoffels, described Moses as respected amongst his fellow firefighters. Young firefighters looked up to him. He also had a passion for training members of the public in fire safety. He was known by many names – “Oom”, “Mosie”, “Mola”, “Mr Moses”. “He earned respect not by demanding it, but just by the way he carried himself,” said Stoffels.

Edwin Lottering a former GRDM Senior Firefighter also said: “I will miss his late-night calls, stories and advice”. Heinrich Leslie, also a former colleague said Denver was a natural leader – passionate about firefighting. “He had the experience to take informed risks.” Leslie further described Denver as someone who didn’t spoon-feed others. “He was to the point and would tell you when you had to take control of a wildfire while he searched by foot for signal to report back to the control room”. Adding to this, he said: “When I think about these incidents, he instilled a mindset in all of us to take charge while staying safe during a wildfire”.

Rest in Peace Denver,
Your service to the Garden Route district will always be remembered and cherished.

“Firefigters never die, they just burn forever in the hearts of the people whose lives they save” – Susan Diane Murphree

A prayer session will be hosted by the Garden Route District Municipality at the municipality’s Council Chambers on Friday, 7 October 2022 at 10h00am. 

Members of the public are invited to view the proceedings through zoom at: https://gardenroute.zoom.us/j/99804471776?pwd=Mk9Nc2RsWDNHNTN4SHZVRUlHMEVLZz09

or through the municipality’s YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8PPLIw2mb4

21 September 2022 Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality Firefighters deliver outstanding performance at TFA-SA

Garden Route District Municipality Firefighters deliver outstanding performance at TFA-SA

For Immediate Release
21 September 2022

The past weekend, 16 and 17 September 2022, a lot of Garden Routers and visitors from other parts of the country, travelled to Mossel Bay to witness the first South African Toughest Fighter Alive (TFA-SA) competition since 2019. The TFA didn’t take place for a few years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s challenge marked the seventh official competition.  The event was hosted in the Garden Route at the De Bakke Beach in Mossel Bay and attracted more than 160 South African competitors.

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Firefighters performed well in the competition, with Emile Conrad winning an overall runner-up position in the competition. He competed against 129 firefighters who competed in the individual event. For the relay event, the GRDM men’s team ended almost at top in second (2nd) position. They beat 28 other teams.

In the events linked to various age categories, the GRDM landed the following top three positions per age category:

  • Age 30-34 for males: Henrich Leslie – 2nd position. He came 5th overall.
  • Age 35-39 for females: Bonita Conrad – 2nd
  • Age 35-39 for males: Emile Conrad – 1st
  • Age 45-49 for males: David van Niekerk – 1st; and Petrus Jordaan – 3rd

The TFA-SA challenge is based on an international event and has become South Africa’s primary fire fighter fitness challenge. Top competitors at the TFA-SA, are selected to represent South Africa internationally.

The GRDM Firefighters who competed in the TFA-SA in Mossel Bay on 16 and 17 September 2022.

GRDM’s recently appointed Chief Fire Officer, Deon Stoffels, said that the GRDM had sixteen (16) competitors in total, including 2 female firefighters. “Each one displayed inspiring courage, perseverance and grit in finishing their individual challenges as well as going all out to ensure their respective relay team, of which we had four (4), performed as best as possible. The camaraderie was contagious and firefighters are already looking forward to perform even better next year in Mossel Bay,” he added. A big thank you is also extended to colleagues that came to support with all theirs cheers and motivation absorbed, including the executive Mayor.

Councillors, management and staff congratulated all participants, especially the GRDM team for their outstanding performance in the competition. By competing in this challenge, the team demonstrated their ongoing dedication in health and fitness. The fitness level of a firefighter is central to their success in containing an incident.

Team Garden Route, congratulations to you!

Feature image: The GRDM Firefighters who participated in the TFA-SA competition, with Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen (back, centre), and GRDM supporters at the event.

ENDS

Visit and like the GRDM Facebook page and view more images of the TFA-SA 2022.

21 September 2022 Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality celebrates Public Service Month through Service Delivery presentations

Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality celebrates Public Service Month through Service Delivery presentations

For Immediate Release
21 September 2022

In line with the country’s Public Service Month campaign, the Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Corporate Services Department in collaboration with internal departments, are rolling out various activities to promote service delivery standards to the municipality’s external and internal audiences.

Recently, the municipality launched its e-recruitment systems and last week, on 16 September 2022, the GRDM Disaster Management and Fire Services representatives presented their operations to staff through a virtual platform hosted from the municipality’s Council Chambers.

Disaster Management Services

Gerhard Otto, GRDM Manager for Disaster Management, during his presentation explained that Disaster Management is a continuous and integrated multiple-sectorial, multi-disciplinary process of planning and implementation of measures aimed at:

  • preventing or reducing the risk of disasters;
  • mitigating the severity of consequences of disasters;
  • emergency preparedness;
  • rapid and effective response to disasters and they are also responsible for post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation of such disasters.

Disaster Management (DM) is a legislative mandate, Act 57 of 2002 as amended by Act 16 of 2015. In line with legislation, the function thus has to provide for an integrated and co-ordinated disaster management policy that focuses on:

  • preventing or reducing the risk of disasters
  • mitigating the severity of disasters
  • emergency preparedness; and
  • post disaster recovery and rehabilitation.

The Act furthermore provides for the establishment and functioning of national, provincial and municipal disaster management centres.

DM: Emergency Call Centre

Explaining the Garden Route’s Risk profile, Otto listed the following risks which the Garden Route district is prone to, namely veldt fires, various types of drought, flood disasters, landslides; epidemics, spills, to name a few. To ensure that all these disasters are properly coordinated, proper lines of communication have to be in place.

The Garden Route Emergency Call Centre with a staff component of seven, is the first line of communication for incidents that need to be reported to the District Disaster Management Centre.  Otto also boasted the capacity and competence of the centre as a fully operational Disaster Management Centre receiving ± 20 000 EMS calls and approximately 5 000 fire and municipal calls per month.

DM: Assistance provided to local municipalities

Otto furthermore explained how the Disaster Management team also assisted local municipality’s Disaster Management Units with the development of their ward based risk assessments as well as local disaster management plans and in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014, the team assisted local municipalities to declare disasters in their respective areas.

In 2017 they played a significant role in the coordination of all activities required due to the Knysna fires, as well as the fires that broke out in George in the following year.  Lastly, the team spear headed the District Covid-19 Command platform established after the national declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2022. The team coordinated the Covid-19 operations from the Municipal Joint Operation Centre that is located in the Garden Route municipal building in York Street George.

“Part of mitigating the effects of the disasters, Otto explained that Early Warning Systems have been put in place in order to communicate any severe weather early warnings to the public.  These include the municipality’s social media networks and e-mails to all Local Municipalities and response agencies/ role-players as well as ward councillors.

DM: Projects rolled out since 2017

Otto further explained that the Unit rolled out various projects since 2017, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the format of some of the projects changed to virtual engagements. These projects include the GRDM Volunteers Corps establishment, Rural Settlement Database, the Greenbook implementation, as well as CityRap implementation. He further explained that quite a number of accomplishments were made. “We have completed the mapping of priority wetlands and river ecosystems, we have established a District Food Pantry and reviewed and updated the Garden Route Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for 2022.  Adding to this Otto said that the team is currently busy with the revision and the updating of the Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme 2021. “We started with the clearing of invasive Alien Vegetation and we have reviewed and updated the Garden Route Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2022, to name a few. Much more are planned to be rolled out and implemented for the current Council term”, he said.

However, Otto admitted that there a still several challenges that still needs to be addressed, such as climate change, strategic water management planning, structured and integrated invasive plant and predator animal eradication, delivery equitable service to all populations groups, address poverty through job creation, etc.

In closing off his presentation Otto said that GRDM Disaster Management plans to: “Build the capacity at local authority level to pro-actively plan and implement mitigation as well as adaptation strategies and disaster risk reduction actions. This will limit the exposure to and the possible impact of future disastrous events”. Further to this he highlighted that the Centre envisages to build on the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) momentum, created with the Flanders funded project to attract further DRR funding from other possible sources i.e. Nedbank, SANTAM, etc.

GRDM Fire Services

Before introducing Deon Stoffels to all present, Trix Holtzhausen, GRDM Executive Manager for Corporate Services, congratulated him as the newly and permanently appointed Chief Fire Officer of the GRDM.

When starting his presentation, Stoffels clarified the role of the GRDM Fire Services and said that the District Municipality is responsible for veld, mountain chemical fires, which include hazardous materials spills and leakages. He further explained that there are certain components of the Disaster Management Strategy that is integrated and therefore in many instances implementable by the Fire Services Unit.

Stoffels said: “The GRDM Fire Services is a designated Fire Brigade Service that is established in terms of the Fire Brigade Services Act (99 and 1987 as amended).  The Service primarily focus on preventing the outbreak or spread of fires; fighting and extinguishing fires; the protection of life or property against a fire or other threatening danger; rescuing of life or property from a fire or other danger and any other function connected with these,” he said.

Their vision and mission, ultimately is to provide an efficient, cost effective, unprejudiced and equitable Fire Services to all citizens and visitors within the Garden Route District” he highlighted.

Together with this, Stoffels also emphasised the importance of creating awareness and educating the communities about the dangers of fire. He said: “GRDM Fire Service creates awareness of the dangers associated with fire in all communities and we furthermore educate Garden Routers, visitors and personnel alike to reduce the threats of fire”.

“We pride ourselves for informing, educating and creating awareness to rural, remote and particularly young children, as they naturally take the message home.’’ Adding to these, Stoffels said: “Developing and training personnel, ensuring that our assets and resources are managed and maintained, and our response time to attend to incidents are kept at the shortest possible time”.  The team furthermore record and document all emergencies and incidents that they attend to in an attempt to do further research and learn from it.

GRDM Fire Services has a staff component of forty-one (41) staff members/officers which are stationed at the main Fire base in George, as well as the Hessequa station based in Riversdale and the Kannaland station based in Ladismith.

Apart from fighting the usual fires, another new phenomenon was added to the team’s list of firefighting in 2020, when they had to fight a peat/underground fire for the first time in the Bergfontein, Albertinia area, for six weeks. He explained: “This is a phenomenon that is happening all over the world, but not often in South-Africa. When wetlands are compromised, it develops into a peatland,” he said. And, although it was a new experience for their team, Stoffels said that they all learnt immensely about the aspects relating to this type of fire as well as to how crucial a wetland and / or peatland are within the ecosystem. “In the past we would deem a fire to be halted at this particular point, but we now know that at all cost to prevent fires from burning here,” he said.

By continuing to deliver this service to the best of their ability, it cannot not be done in isolation. He said: “We are grateful to have good working relations with all our local municipalities, the South Cape Fire Protection Association, the Department of Forestry’s Fisheries & the Environment, the South African National Parks, Cape Nature, MTO Forestry, PG Bison Forestry, the Provincial Department: Directorate Fire Services and Working of Fire and we look forward to future collaborative fire services efforts to protect the people, properties and assets of the Garden Route district”.

The event was coordinated by the Corporate Services Executive Manager, Trix Holtzhausen in collaboration with the Community Services Department, under leadership of the Executive Manager, Clive Africa, who also attended the event. The next Public Service Month activity is planned to take place on Friday, 23 September 2022.

Did you know?

  • September marks Public Service Month in South Africa. Public Service Month (PSM) is an integrated strategic national event in the calendar of the Department of Public Service and Administration. The Public Service Month serves as a reminder of what it means to serve communities and to also look at the impact the government has, especially around issues of service delivery.
  • That GRDM Disaster Management Services continuously conduct First Aid training to members of the public as part of their annual awareness programme and is aimed at capacitating employed and unemployed Garden Routers to be able to save lives in any kind of emergency. The municipality has been providing First Aid Level 3 training since 2008 and to this point has trained more than 1700 community members. Each session takes place over a period of a week once per month and is facilitated by the GRDM Disaster Management officials at the municipality’s Head Office in George.
  • That the GRDM Fire Services, on a regular basis educate the communities about fire safety. These continuous initiatives form part of the GRDM Fire Services’ Fire Prevention and Fire Safety functions. Whilst the focus is placed on rural communities, businesses and schools within the residential areas are also assisted upon request.

5 August 2022 Media Release: GRDM Firefighters perform well at the Dräger Fire Combat & Rescue Challenge

Media Release: GRDM Firefighters perform well at the Dräger Fire Combat & Rescue Challenge

For immediate release
5 August 2022

Last week Thursday, 28 July 2022, the Garden Route District Municipality Firefighting team who participated in the Dräger Fire Combat & Rescue Challenge in Johannesburg, did very well!

The challenge was hosted by Dräger, in association with SA Emergency Care (SAEC), and was sponsored by Ram Couriers.The team members included: Emile Conrad, David van Niekerk, Branville Abrahams, Grant Gericke and Petrus Jordaan.

From left: David van Niekerk, Petrus Jordaan, Grant Gericke, Branville Abrahams and Emile Conrad represented GRDM Fire Services at the competition.

The competition consisted of three different challenges, including the Fire Combat Challenge, a Rescue Challenge and a Crossfit Challenge and the GRDM team ended third overall in the team relay!

In the Individual items, the GRDM team won the Crossfit challenge, ended second in the Crossfit rowing calories Challenge and ended third in the MTG Confined Space (rescue) Challenge. Senior Firefighter, Emile Conrad, achieved first place in both the Firefighter Combat Challenge and Individual Firefighter Crossfit Event.  David van Niekerk ended 2nd in the 40-49 age group category of the Fire Combat Challenge.

This year was the second time that GRDM Fire & Rescue team participated in the competition.

The GRDM’s council, management and staff wish to congratulate and thank the Garden Route team for an outstanding performance and for representing the Garden Route with pride and determination. And, with the upcoming Toughest Fire Fighter Competition that will be held from 16 to 17 September this year in Mossel Bay, we wish you all the best with the preparations and we look forward to yet another sterling performance.

Congratulations once again!

ENDS

30 June 2022 Media Release: Bojanala Platinum DM pays a visit to Garden Route DM to benchmark emergency-related services

Media Release: Bojanala Platinum DM pays a visit to Garden Route DM to benchmark emergency-related services

For Immediate Release
30 June 2022

Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Fire and Rescue Services had a successful year of firefighting thanks to the public reporting incidents and for assistance provided by various role players. During the past financial year starting 1 July 2021 and ending 30 June 2022, no lives were lost in wildfires. A countless number of homes and shacks were protected while only ±40 structures, including shacks, were destroyed by wildfires. Shacks are included in the statistics of the GRDM because the municipality renders a local municipal firefighting function for Kannaland.

It is because of the world-class firefighting response by the GRDM and the state-of-the-art Disaster Management Centre of the District, that Bojanala Platinum District Municipality (BPDM) visited the region to learn from the best. The BPDM was here on a mission to benchmark its fire services and meet global standards while safeguarding its communities.

HIGHLIGHTS OF BPDM VISIT

During her opening remarks upon arrival at the GRDM Head Office, Cllr Matlakala Nondzaba, Executive Mayor of BPDM said: “We have chosen the GRDM because the district has one of the best firefighting units in the country”.

“It can never be too late to learn from your peers who are excelling. Our visit here also comes at the right time as we enter a new financial year. We might have to relook our priorities going forward,” said Mayor Nondzaba. Executive Mayor, Ald. Memory Booysen responded with how the region has been hit by several disasters over the past ten (10) years. “This has made us very resilient and experts in coordinating regional responses to emergencies, however, we can improve like any other municipality,” said Booysen.

Booysen also took a moment to thank BPDM and the province it represents for them and others for extending lending a helping hand during the Knysna fires.

BPDM visited the GRDM Disaster Management Centre and the main firebase of GRDM which is situated at 17 Pioneer Road in Pacaltsdorp Industria, George. During their visit to the firebase, they did a walk-through of the property, learnt more about all the firefighting vehicles of the district and were shown how the GRDM’s thermal drone operates. At the Disaster Management Centre, they also had the opportunity to better understand the GRDM’s response to emergencies.

The session was closed by both municipalities agreeing to formulate a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU). GRDM Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu, made it clear that the MOU should have clear deliverables to ensure a meaningful outcome for all future engagements between both institutions. Some of the issues touched on during MOU discussions included policy matters, budget planning for disaster management and fire services, specifications for equipment, and strategic approaches to improving workforce morale.

GRDM Acting Fire Chief, Johan Brand, shared some technical features of the GRDM fire trucks with three Chief Fire Officers, Fanie Mogale, Dan Khunou and Doctor Mosito.

OVERVIEW OF FIREFIGHTING OPERATIONS OVER THE PAST YEAR

In assessing the 2021/2022 financial year, the GRDM fought over 90 wildfires, be it by foot or with the support of aerial firefighting. This means that on average, a wildfire occurs every 4th day of a 365-day period. With the Garden Route district area being 2 333 100 hectares in size, including residential areas, only 12 669 hectares were burned. This calculates to 0,54% of the region impacted by wildfires over the past 12 months.

Battling blazes always requires a joint response. It is therefore only prudent for the GRDM Fire and Rescue Services to once again officially thank all the role players who put their lives on the line to keep communities safe. Role players include Cape Nature, South African National Parks (SANParks), Mountain To Ocean (MTO), Local Municipalities (Hessequa, Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, Bitou, Greater Oudtshoorn and Kannaland), Working On Fire (WoF), PG Bison, South Cape Fire Protection Agency (SCFPA), Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), Albertinia and Still Bay Farm Watch, First Care Volunteer Wildfire Services, Knysna Fire Rangers and Bitou Farm Management Unit, local farmers (Mossel Bay, Riversdale, Gysmanshoek) and volunteers.

On top of the rapid response of firefighters, the GRDM held 36 information sessions with schools and communities, three (3) per month throughout the seven (7) municipal areas. These sessions were facilitated by 40 firefighters of the GRDM who report to firefighting bases in George, Riversdale and Ladismith.

The information sessions generally include topics such as:

  • What to do when discovering a wildfire;
  • Using evacuation routes and sheltered areas;
  • What not to do in a fire situation;
  • Fire behaviour;
  • How to put out a fire without water;
  • Preventing fires from spreading;
  • Assisting vulnerable citizens, such as the elderly and children and pregnant women;
  • Locating and using fire extinguishers;
  • How to safely evacuate;
  • Safe practices around and inside homes.

Another contributing factor to the success of firefighting efforts is resources. The GRDM Fire and Rescue Services Unit has the following transport assets: five (5) tankers, 6 firefighting bakkies, a command vehicle, hazardous material fire truck and a quadbike.

If the public comes across any wildfire, please make contact with the GRDM Emergency Call Centre on 044 805 5071. The call centre is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and each day of the year.

Feature image: GRDM and BPDM representatives at the main firebase of the District.

ENDS

26 April 2022 Media Release: Best of luck Emile Conrad! Keep our flag high!

Media Release:  Best of luck Emile Conrad! Keep our flag high!

 For Immediate Release
26 April 2022

Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Senior Firefighter and multiple winner of the “Sout African Toughest Firefighter Alive Competition,” Emile Conrad, will tomorrow, 27 April 2022, depart to Lisbon, Portugal. There he will compete in the 14th edition of the World Firefighters Games, which will take place from 30 April to 7 May 2022.

Emilie Conrad, a well-known name in the firefighting community in South Africa. He has in the past won the “Men’s Individual” category of the SA Toughest Firefighter Alive Competition on multiple occasions since his first attempt in 2011.

The World Firefighters Games, which are being held every two years in a different country, brings together firefighters from all over the globe. These include full-time, part-time, volunteer structural firefighters, bush firefighters, aviation fire services, and military emergency response personnel.  The event includes more than 50 different sports and challenges, including archery, rugby sevens, windsurfing, poker, swimming, athletics, and softball, with the “Toughest Firefighter Alive” being the crowning achievement.

Emile Conrad will be part of a team of twenty (20) firefighters, eighteen (18) from the Western Cape and two (2) from the Eastern Cape who will compete under the banner of the Western Cape Firefighters Association. These men and women will be representing South Africa as well as their respective municipalities during the competition.

In response to a question regarding the competition, Conrad responded enthusiastically, “I’m very overwhelmed and thankful for everything that God has done in my life. In addition, I would like to thank my friends and Charnaud Protective Wear, who not only provided me with the best fire fighting gear, but also made this trip to Lisbon, Portugal possible.  I cannot wait for ‘Game Day!’”

The GRDM management and staff would like to wish Emile Conrad a safe journey and the best of luck in the competition.

12 April 2022 Media Release: GRDM Firefighters present Fire Safety and Fire Prevention educational sessions to Garden Routers

GRDM Firefighters present Fire Safety and Fire Prevention educational sessions to Garden Routers

For Immediate Release
12 April 2022

During the last few weeks the Fire & Rescue Services of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) conducted several fire awareness sessions within Garden Route district to educate residents about the dangers of fire as well as the prevention of unwanted fires.

GRDM Firefighters presents the Fire & Life Safety session to learners at Heidedal Primary School.

On the 23 March 2022, the team visited the Heidedal Primary School in George to present a Fire and Life Safety educational session to the learners from Grade R and Grade 1. The team also conducted a Fire Extinguisher Training Session at the Caltex Petrol Station in Wilderness of which five (5) participants formed part of the session. In closing their educational activities for March, the George team, on the 30 March , visited a larger group of forty-eight (48) learners from Ballotsview in Parkdene, to present a Fire and Life session to the “Speel en Leersentrum”.

GRDM Firefighting team conducts Fire Extinguisher Training Session at the Caltex Petrol Station.

It was also an eventful month for the GRDM Kannaland Firefighting team, as they conducted training and fire safety sessions at various establishments within the Kannaland area. The sessions presented by the team, include the following:

  • 16/03/2022 – Emergency Evacuation Training presented to learners and staff of E.K Primary School at their school in Zoar.
  • 23/03/2022 – An Emergency Evacuation exercise at Huis Izak Van Tonder Old Age Home presented to the staff and elders at their premises in Ladismith.
  • 23/03/2022 – Fire Extinguisher Training to the staff of Huis Izak Van Tonder Old Age Home at their premises in Ladismith.
  • 30/03/2022 – Fire Extinguisher Training presented to staff of Huis Izak Van Tonder Old Age Home at their premises in Ladismith.

All sessions were well received as the firefighters and facilitators used practical methods to ensure that toddlers, learners and participants remained interest in the topics that were discussed and demonstrated.

Learners from the ‘Speel en Leersentrum’ during their session presented by the GRDM Firefighters.

These continuous initiatives form part of the GRDM Fire Services’ Fire Prevention and Fire Safety functions. Whilst the focus is placed on rural communities, businesses and schools within the residential areas are also assisted upon request.

Some of the Fire Safety tips shared at the sessions include:

  1. Do not make drum fires in your house, and if done, please ensure that the fires are extinguished before going to bed.
  2. Continue to burn rubbish and debris in designated areas.
  3. Do not make large ‘bond’ fires in between informal houses especially when winds are prevailing as the conduction and radiation of heat happen easily from one structure to another.

ENDS

04 March 2022 Media Release: GRDM Firefighters educate Garden Routers about wildfires in Summer seasons

Media Release: GRDM Firefighters educate Garden Routers about wildfires in Summer seasons

For immediate release
04 March 2022

 The Garden Route is historically a fire-prone district with many areas which are a high risk to fire.  

During the hot and dry Summer season, wildfires are more prevalent and are difficult to control. Wildfires happen mostly outside urban areas that also have the potential to spread out of control. These types of fires also have the potential to kill people and destroy property. 

Most wildfires are started by people, compared to a lesser amount which is started by natural occurrences such as lightning. 

GRDM Disaster Management official with a member of the Melkhoutfontein community member during a Fire Awareness Campaign.

When it comes to fire safety awareness, one of the most important methods is identifying potential fire threats and ensuring that a well-thought-out fire safety plan is in place as soon as a fire occurs. 

The Fire & Rescue Service and Disaster Management teams from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) continuously place a lot of efforts on preventative measures in the form of awareness and education. They especially do this in and around rural and remote areas and within high-risk areas on the urban perimeters.  Areas in George such as Hoekwil/Touwsranten and Wilderness Heights recently received educational visits from the GRDM firefighters.

Members from the Garden Route District Disaster Management Centre furthermore collaborated with Hessequa Fire and Rescue Unit to conduct a Fire Awareness Campaign at the Melkhoutfontein “Kerksegronde” community. The aim was to teach the community to be fire safe and prevent undesirable structural and veld fires, also to raise awareness of the dangers of fires. The community was encouraged to take responsibility for reducing fire risks and its potential impacts. Emergency contact details were also distributed. 

To date the fire season has been relatively busy, as well as around the Western Cape.

To illustrate further (in the pictures) are interventions undertaken by the GRDM firefighters during the past ‘non-fire season’ in different areas within the Garden Route district where the team created awareness about fire safety.

ENDS