A message from Chris Giffard:
At the Duiwenhoks Conservancy AGM on the Easter weekend, Charl Wade from the Southern Cape Fire Prevention Association (SCFPA) made a presentation on efforts in the area to reduce the fire risk and to enable effective fire fighting when fires do occur. The SCFPA is a voluntary association of landowners whose first task is to develop integrated fire prevention plans for local areas. Membership fees are so low as to be nominal. While membership is voluntary, there is a very good reason for all property owners in fire risk areas to become members. The reason is this: The National Veld and Forest Fire Act of 1998 states that if a fire begins on a property, and goes on to cause damage to other property, then the landowner where the fire started is presumed to have been negligent until the contrary is proved, unless they are a member of a fire prevention association such as the SCFPA, and have thus made efforts to reduce the risk of fire. In such circumstances, the landowner will be responsible for the damage caused, which is likely to be considerable in the case of a fire. So membership affords landowners legal protection against possible civil claims.
I have been requested to co-ordinate the relationship between the Conservancy and the SCFPA. The starting point is to get as many landowners along the Duiwenhoks and in the surrounding areas to become members. This will enable the association to develop a fire prevention strategy across property boundaries where necessary, in order to safeguard the entire region.
So far, there are about 8 property owners in the area who have joined the SCFPA. This is an appeal to everyone who owns property in the area to join the association. Although some of the properties along the Duiwenhoks River are quite small, it is still important that those property owners also become members. Remember, if a fire starts on your property, even if you are not there, and you cannot show that you have taken adequate steps to prevent such a fire (which includes joining the SCFPA), you may be liable for damage to your neighbours’ property.
This is also an urgent request to act now, and not to wait until next month or next year. The sooner the bulk of landowners sign up, the sooner the staff of the SCFPA can put together a fire security plan that will benefit the entire community. Membership application forms are available in MS Word right here SCFPAMembershipApplicationForm-EngAfr-MSWord(1). The form takes 5 minutes to complete. Once you’ve done it send it to Charl Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, send an e-mail to email@example.com and I will send you a form.