Cape Town’s fire season occurs from November through to May which are our hottest, and driest months. Together with our beloved south-easterly “Cape Doctor” – which adores clearing our city of pollution – these arid conditions create ideal opportunities for wildfires to spark and quickly rage out of control.
From our homes and businesses to our beloved Table Mountain National Park, there are various organisations in place to manage fire safety and intervene both to avoid fires and to control them when they happen.
It’s true that fires are a part of the South African landscape and occur naturally in grasslands, woodlands, fynbos, and sometimes in indigenous forests. However, there has been a disastrous loss of natural diversity in our fynbos ecosystem and an invasion of Australian wattles, Eucalypts and Mediterranean pines. Now, our fires burn hotter for longer and each fire destroys more than the last. Meaning it’s more important now than ever to actively keep your home, family and business safe and to protect the life and value they hold.
Home and Work Checklist for Fire Safety
- Ember-proofing any area, requires the removal of all flammable plants up to 7m from a building, as well as overhanging branches. Checking and cleaning gutters and roofing for debris is important too.
- Always remember, your safety is first and if you are not properly trained, call for assistance.
- Make sure that all your insurance documents and other important documentation are backed up securely to the cloud.
- Assign tasks to staff and run fire drills so that everyone is prepared in an emergency.
- If you need to stay and help fight fires, cover your head, nose and mouth and protect your eyes with goggles. Wear good shoes and gloves.
- If you have access to water, wet the roof and gutters to stop hot ash from burning the roof.
- Keep grass cut as short as possible as it helps slow the fire.
- Keep a hose pipe rolled up and ready.
- Keep fire extinguishers around that are regularly maintained and train your staff on how to use them safely and correctly.
Other interventions that you can implement on a larger scale include considering your construction materials if you are remodelling and supplementing them for fire-resistant alternatives. You should also ensure full continued compliance with all local and national fire safety codes and think about installing fire protection systems such as overhead sprinklers.
Unfortunately, despite all the precautions, a fire can happen to any size business at any time. That is why protecting your employees and your property should be a top priority. Following the above steps will help you avoid any fires breaking out and minimise fire-related damages. While there may be no such thing as truly “fireproof,” these guidelines are an excellent starting point for safeguarding your business.
Contact information for the Fire and Rescue Service Department
24-hour emergencies: 107 (landline) or 021 480 7700 (cellphone)
General fire safety enquiries: 021 590 1971 / 021 590 1975
To report a fire : Hotline: 086 110 6417 or The City’s Regional Fire Control No: (021) 590 1900