South African Insurance Association

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Fighting Fire by Managing Risk

Johannesburg - Property and business interruption losses as a result of wildfire have increased dramatically in South Africa. Managing fire risk is every property owner’s responsibility as experts warn that the world is becoming warmer and drier, increasing the chances of unwanted wildfire.

Zanele Gigaba, SAIA Transformation Manager, says “SAIA, in collaboration with LandVista held the first community Fire Risk Reduction and Awareness Programme at the Show Grounds hall in Swellendam on the 12th and 14th of July 2018 to help equip community members to better manage fire risk.”

“The aim of the intervention is to educate communities living in the urban-rural interphase, about wildfire risk management strategies. Managing wildfires is a community imperative and no individual can successfully prevent wildfires without the support and contribution from their neighbours,” says Gigaba.

Tessa Oliver, Project Manager for Risk Reduction at Landworks - acknowledged experts in land management and fire awareness strategies - stated that “community members have the power to protect themselves from the devastation that is caused by wildfire.”

Oliver says the following activities can help mitigate against the risk of wildfires:

  • Clean up  the area surrounding your home - by removing dead branches and leaves and piles of wood that can catch alight;
  • If you keep a pile of firewood, stack it well away from the house;
  • Remove tree branches overhanging your roof and the lower branches of trees and shrubs that can act as a “ladder” up which fire can spread;
  • Avoid having trees and shrubs growing close to walls, windows and doors;
  • Clean out your gutters;
  • Check your roof; make sure there are no gaps where wind can blow embers into your home.

“More public awareness sessions are planned for the year, and these will take place in areas with the highest wildfire risk such as Knysna, Kranshoek and Matatiele in August; and Richmond in September 2018,” concludes Gigaba.

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