Learning to fight wildfires

The Free State Umbrella Fire Protection Association (FSUFPA) announced a new wildfire training programme aimed at landowners and farmworkers at the association’s recent media day in Dewetsdorp.

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Johan Breytenbach, FSUPPA Gariep District and Training Manager, said the training course had been developed in conjunction with the US Montana Natural Resource and Conservation Department.

“In the Free State we are mainly faced with grassland fires, the same as in Montana. We have developed a volunteer wildfire management and suppression training programme based on the Montana programme,” he said.

Breytenbach said wildfire fighting is dangerous and lives are lost on the fire line annually in the Free State. The training sessions are planned to start as soon as the 2016 wildfire season is over, depending on the rainfall in the province.

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“We are also in the fortunate position that Montana agreed to send a team to the Free State for two weeks in April next year to help us expand our training capacity,” he said.

The Free State University’s Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa will also form part of the new training initiative in the province.