Generally, a veldfire is a fire that burns in any substantial area covered with vegetation, be it natural or alien. Every person who is the owner or manager of such a piece of property is required by law to do the following :
a) make a fire break around their property that will prevent the spreading of a wildfire from, or onto the property,
b) have trained staff available should a fire start or spread onto the property, and
c) have suitable and sufficient equipment to fight such a fire.
It is clear that very few landowners meet these needs, as set out in the Veld & Forest Fire Act. To this end the Act allows for “Agents” to be appointed to carry out the fire fighting functions. Due to the costs involved, once again very few landowners meet the requirements. This is the main reason wildfires are able to spread as quickly as they do. The full legal implications have yet to be felt by many landowners who still fail to meet their responsibilities. Insurance companies have recently started to reject claims from landowners, valued at millions of rands, because the basic requirements had not been met. In some cases, these landowners have had to sell their farms to settle the claims against them and for the fire fighting costs. In RSA, this Act is the only one that states if a fire starts or spreads from your property, you are assumed guilty until proven innocent.
Enter the concept of the Fire Protection Associations, managed by the Dept of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF). Such associations consist of landowners who group together to share resources, plan mutually beneficial fire breaks, and are presumed innocent in the event of a fire starting or spreading from their property.
Establishing an FPA is a lengthy process due to the required meetings and documentation, and Enviro Wildfire Services offers this service to landowners who are interested in forming such a group.