The summer season has once again seen an increase in the number of fires, which has resulted in vast areas of vegetation being destroyed. But most tragically, it has resulted in the loss of lives, particularly in informal settlements and backyarder dwellings.
Just yesterday, a fire broke out in a backyarder dwelling in Bellville South which affected a number of structures, while 18 residents were displaced.
I am always saddened to hear of this, particularly as many of these tragic incidents could have been prevented by taking some basic precautions.
As part of our work to build a safe and caring city, the City of Cape Town is therefore conducting ongoing fire awareness campaigns, educating residents on potential dangers and how to take preventative measures in a bid to reduce the number of fires.The City’s Fire and Rescue Service and Disaster Risk Management staff have criss-crossed the city to hundreds of areas to conduct these education and awareness drives.
Between October and December last year, public awareness sessions were held in areas including Khayelitsha, Macassar, Lotus River, Schaapkraal, Gugulethu, Lavender Hill, Nyanga and Bishop Lavis.
Thousands of residents were reached through these sessions.
However, despite our ongoing efforts, we are still seeing far too many fires that could easily be prevented through responsible and cautious behaviour.
In December last year, we launched the Misa Umlilo Stop the Fire campaign, intensifying the education of residents and calling on everyone to work with us and share the responsibility of preventing fires.
We are all firefighters and we all have a duty to protect our homes and lives, and the lives of others.
Today we launched the second leg of Misa Umlilo by taking this message to the residents of Bellville South.
We realise that backyarders are also affected by fires and so today we distributed fire safety items, including fire horns, solar jars and portable fire extinguishers, to around 500 families.
As we continue to roll out this campaign, families in various areas will receive one of these items. Most importantly, however, we will engage with them on the importance of being responsible with flammable materials and especially vigilant with children.
The City will continue to invest in fire prevention measures and resources but we will only succeed if we all work together to build a safe and caring city.
We will assist residents in every way possible as far as our resources allow, but protecting our families, our neighbours and our environment is everyone’s responsibility.
Our teams remain on high alert for the remainder of the fire season and I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to our firefighters and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to ensure that we respond to these incidents swiftly.
Your dedication and sacrifice is invaluable to all residents of Cape Town and we thank you for your hard work.