Monday, February 23, 2009

Busy period for the City’s fire department

By Cindy Witten
23 February 2009

Fire fighters in the Western Cape have been kept busy over the past few weeks, as the hot weather and windy conditions have lead to the increase of fires.

The City of Cape Town’s fire and rescue service has warned that it is not likely that the fire season will come to an end any time soon.

The Bush Radio news team received reports from as far as Strand, saying that residents evacuated their homes due to the fires.

The City has advised residents to take extra safety precautions to protect their properties from the risk of fire. Ian Schnetler, the City’s Chief Fire Officer says that no fatalities have been reported, but two fire fighters have been injured.

“This morning fire fighters were injured, but it is not too serious. Rescuers have indicated that no property has been damaged yet.”

Vineyards on four farms, Erinvale, Lourensford, Vergelegen and Knorhoek, were reported to be burning but there was no threat to homes or people.

Earlier today a school and a number of homes had to be evacuated because of thick smoke in the area.

At least 120 personnel, volunteer fire fighters, reservists and helicopters were battling to bring the flames under control. The fires began last week and flared up out of control again early this morning.

The City’s Fire and Rescue Service has issued the following safety tips:

Prevent a fire in your home:

Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.

Avoid overloading electrical circuits.

Service your electrical components regularly and replace faulty ones.

Switch off all electrical appliances at the wall at night or when leaving your home.

When cooking, do not leave the pot on the stove unattended

Cut candles in half to prevent them from toppling over and use a candle holder.

Smoking in bed is dangerous

Protect your home from fire

(If you live near an open veld or on the urban fringe)
Maintain adequate fire breaks around your properties.

Form a safety zone around your house, using gravel or lawn that is kept short.

Keep your home and garden free of debris such as dead leaves, twigs or litter.

Clean debris from roof surfaces and gutters.

Avoid having trees and bushes next to the house, or creepers on the walls.

Remove dead branches from trees and bushes.

Keep a fire extinguisher in your house and /or have your garden hose rolled up and ready for use in the event of a fire.

Consider installing screens, shutters or heavy fire-resistant curtains

Store any firewood, gas, petrol or paint away from living areas.

Provide enough distance between dwellings for emergency access.

Where possible, have more than one exit from your dwelling.

Have an escape plan and make sure that the whole family knows the plan

Ensure that fire hydrants remain unobstructed, especially by parked vehicles

Ensure easy access and turning space for emergency vehicles.

Please also remember to not throw burning cigarette butts out of car windows.

Report all fires by dialling 107 from a landline or (021) 480 7700 from a cellphone.

Report any persons starting fires to Law Enforcement on (021) 596 1999.


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