Fire disaster management in South Africa: Look at statistics and impacts
Keywords:wildfires, settlements, statistics, South Africa
The existence of wildfires has been present since before humans, eventually, humans learned to control it. Today, fire is used for light, warmth, hunting, gathering, agriculture, energy, and so on. Fire has led to the evolution of flora and fauna of the world and the development of human society. Fire is both a natural and manmade disaster that causes a significant threat to life, property in residential, urban, rural areas, as well as industrial areas and the environment. Impacts of fire can be social, economic, and environmental, such as demolishing wildlife habitat, watershed and water supply damages, damage to property such as public recreation facilities, trails, campgrounds, and signs that affect tourists, destruction of timber, degraded air quality, and smoke-related illnesses. Fires when not controlled become disasters that should be addressed. This is done through disaster management, which can be summarized through the disaster management cycle that includes mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Disaster management of fire should be carried out in accordance with the Disaster Management Act, the Fire Brigade Service Act, the National Veld and Forest Fire Act, and the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act. Fire in South Africa is a usual occurrence. The National Disaster Management Center recorded that in 2016/17, over 17,000 fires occurred, destroying almost 5,900 dwellings, resulting in the death of 142 people. Fires greatly affect informal settlements as well as other hazards that are poorly built and overcrowded, therefore are vulnerable.
Pausas JG, Keeley JE: A burning story: The role of fire in the history of life. BioScience. 2009; 59(7): 593-601.
Xin J, Huang C: Fire risk analysis of residential buildings based on scenario clusters and its application in fire risk management. Fire Saf J. 2013; 62(Part A): 72-78.
Bowman DM, Balch J, Artaxo P, et al.: The human dimension of fire regimes on earth. J Biogeogr. 2011; 38(12): 2223-2236.
Engelbrecht CJ, Landman WA, Engelbrecht FA, et al.: A synoptic decomposition of rainfall over the cape South Coast of South Africa. Clim Dyn. 2015; 44(9-10): 2589-2607.
Frost PG: Fire in Southern African woodlands: Origins, impacts, effects, and control. Carbon. 1999; 8(7000): 181.
Gaur MK, Squires VR: Geographic extent and characteristics of the world’s arid zones and their peoples. In Climate Variability Impacts on Land Use and Livelihoods in Drylands. Cham: Springer, 2018: 3-20.
Schulze R, Schutte S: Thematic booklet 14 hazards and climate change in South Africa: Fire danger rating under natural conditions. 2016. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.15660.00648.
Vetter S: Drought change and resilience in South Africa’s arid and semi-arid rangelands. S Afr J Sci. 2009; 105(1-2): 29-33.
Forsyth GG, Kruger F, Le Maitre DC: National Veldfire Risk Assessment: Analysis of Exposure of Social, Economic and Environmental Assets to Veldfire Hazards in South Africa. National Resources and the Environment CSIR, Fred Kruger Consulting cc, 2010.
Ngobeni D: Commission of enquiry into the fire at the Pretoriuskop area in the Krugrer National Park that broke out on 4 September 2001. 2005. Available at https://www.dffe.gov.za/sites/default/files/docs/2001ngobeni_krugerpark_commisionofenquiry.pdf. Accessed February 8, 2023.
Luhabe N: North West legislature meets North West education over fire incidents at schools. 2015. Available at https://www.gov.za/speeches/north-west-legislature-committee-education-meet-department-over-fire-incidents-volks-high#. Accessed April 16, 2021.
Coleman A: Thousands of hectares destroyed by free state wildfires. 2020. Available at https://www.farmersweekly.co.za/agrinews/south-africa/thousands-of-hectares-destroyed-by-free-statewildfires/. Accessed April 16, 2021.
Parliament of the Republic of South Africa: Agriculture committee calls on minister to declare parts of Free State and Northern Cape disaster areas. 2020. Available at https://www.parliament.gov.za/press-releases/agriculture-committee-calls-minister-declare-partsfree-state-and-northern-cape-disaster-areas. Accessed April 16, 2021.
Holecz F, Sa S: Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) and forest fire ignition in alpine conditions (WUI-CH). 2011. Available at https://www.wsl.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/WSL/Wald/Klimawandel/Schlussberichte_im_Programm__Wald_und_Klimawandel__ohne_DOI/WUI_revised_final_report2_MC.pdf. Accessed February 8, 2023.
Neary DG, Leonard JM: Physical vulnerabilities from wildfires: Flames, floods, and debris flows. In Naser H (ed.): Human Impact on the Environment. London, England: IntechOpen Limited, 2019: 17.
Heikkila TV, GrÖNqvist R, Jurvelius M: Wildland Fire Management Handbook for Trainers. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2010.
Fire Triangle (undated). Avaialble at https://www.sc.edu/ehs/training/Fire/01_triangle.htm. Accessed February 8, 2023.
Fast Fire Protection: Understanding the fire extinguisher classes in Australia. 2018. Available at https://www.fastfireprotection.com.au/fire-extinguishers/. Accessed May 11, 2020.
Rasheed A: Classes of fire according to international standards. HSE Skyward. 2019. Available at https://www.hseskyward.com/classes-of-fire-according-to-international-standards/. Accessed November 5, 2020.
United States Department of Labour: Portable fire extinguishers, extinguisher basics. 2020. Available at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/portable_about.html. Accessed November 12, 2020.
Moshashaei P, Alizadeh SS: Fire risk assessment: A systematic review of the methodology and functional areas. Iranian J Health Saf Environ. 2017; 4(1): 654-669.
Jhariya MK, Raj A: Effects of wildfires on flora, fauna and physico-chemical properties of soil—An overview. JANS. 2014; 6(2): 887-897.
Kojo AE: Temporal modelling of fire outbreaks case study: Ashanti region of Ghana. 2015.
Masellis M, Ferrara MM, Gunn SWA: Fire disaster and burn disaster: Planning and management. Ann Burns Fire Disas. 1999; 12: 67-76.
Khan H, Vasilescu LG, Khan A: Disaster management cycle—A theoretical approach. J Manag Market. 2008; 6(1): 43-50.
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR): Disaster management. 2020. Available at https://www.undrr.org/terminology/disaster-management. Accessed November 10, 2020.
South Africa: Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002). 2002.
South Africa: Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. 1996.
South Africa: National Veld and Forest Fire Act No. 101 of 1998. 1998.
Vermaak J, Niekerk DV: Disaster risk reduction initiatives in South Africa. Dev Southern Afr. 2004; 21(3): 555-574.
Sithole BE: Municipal Disaster Management in South Africa: Intergovernmental Relations as a Planning Instrument. Free State: Central University of Technology, 2014.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs: Disaster management: Briefing. Parliamentary Monitoring Group, 2000. Available at https://pmg.org.za/committee-meeting/3966/. Accessed February 5, 2021.
Smith G: Intergovernmental relations in the Western Cape. Local Government Law Bulletin. Bellville: Community Law Centre, 2002: 12.
South Africa: National Disaster Management Framework. 2005. 35. Disaster Management Institute of Southern Africa (DMISA): Green paper on disaster management. 2020. Available at http://www.disaster.co.za/pics/GreenPaper.pdf. Accessed May 11, 2020.
Periperi U: Disaster management guidelines for municipalities. 2020. Available at riskreductionafrica.org. Accessed November 10, 2020.
South Africa: The Fire Brigade Services Act, 1987 (Act No. 99 of 1987). 1987.
National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC): Fire Brigade Services Act: White paper on fire services. 2020. 39. Fire and Rescue: Fire Rescue Int. 2014; 2(9).
International Transport Forum (ITF): Road Safety Annual Report 2016. Paris: OECD, 2016.
South African Government: White paper on disaster management. (1999-present). Available at https://www.preventionweb.net/files/31456_whitepapersouthafrica.pdf. Accessed February 8, 2023.
National Forest Act no. 84 of 1998. Available at https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/201409/a84-98.pdf. Accessed February 8, 2023.
Beck J, Parminter J, Alexander M, et al.: Fire ecology and management. In Watts SB, Tolland L (eds.): Forestry Handbook for British Columbia. 2005: 485-521.
Waldrop TA, Goodrick SL: Introduction to prescribed fires in Southern ecosystems. In Science Update SRS-054. Asheville, NC: US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station, 2012: 80.
Morton DC, Roessing ME, Camp AE, et al.: Assessing the environmental, social, and economic impacts of wildfire. GISF Research Paper 1. 2003.
Penman TD, Christie FJ, Andersen AN, et al.: Prescribed burning: How can it work to conserve the things we value? Int J Wildland Fire. 2011; 20(6): 721-733.
Fernandes PM, Botelho HS: A review of prescribed burning effectiveness in fire hazard reduction. Int J Wildland Fire. 2003; 12(2): 117-128.
Frost PE, Kleyn LG, Van Den Dool R, et al.: The Elandskraal Fire, Knysna. A data driven analysis. 2018. CSIR Report number: 271960-1. South Africa: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF): Fire protection association annual report for the financial year 2009/10. 2010. Available at https://www.dffe.gov.za/sites/default/files/reports/firepotectionassociation_annualreport2009.pdf. Accessed February 8, 2023.
Matt Jolly W: South African national fire danger rating system. 2009. Available at https://docplayer.net/36630558-South-africannational-fire-danger-rating-system.html. Accessed February 8, 2023.
Forestry in South Africa: Fire danger index. 2021. Available at https://forestry.co.za/fire-danger-index/. Accessed May 2, 2021.
South African Weather Service: Fire Danger Index. 2021. Available at https://www.weathersa.co.za/home/fireindex. Accessed February 5, 2021.
Willis C, van Wilgen B, Tolhurst K, et al.: The development of a national fire danger rating system for South Africa. 2001. Report No. ENV-P-C 2000-073. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.4562.7760.
Ascoli D, Russo L, Giannino F, et al.: Firebreak and fuelbreak. 2018. Manzello S (ed). Encyclopedia of Wildfires and Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fires. Cham: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-51727-8_70-1.
South Africa: National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act 103 of 1977. 1977. Available at https://www.gov.za/. Accessed May 10, 2020.
Building Regulations: Building regulations: Introduction. 2020. Available at https://www.sans10400.co.za/. Accessed October 5, 2020.
SANS 10177-1: Fire Testing of Materials, Components and Elements Used in Buildings, Part 1: General Introduction to the Methods of Test. Pretoria: South African Bureau of Standards, 2005.
Black C: Fire Testing Methods of Structural Elements. Johannesburg: Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand, 2018.
SANS 10177-2: Fire Testing of Materials, Components and Elements Used in Buildings, Part 2: Fire Resistance Test for Building Elements. Pretoria: South African Bureau of Standards, 2005.
SANS 10177-7: Fire Testing of Materials, Components and Elements Used in Buildings, Part 2: Fire Test for Fire-Check Properties of Building Elements. Pretoria: South African Bureau of Standards, 2005.
Bond WJ, Keane RE: Fires, ecological effects of. Reference module in life sciences. The Netherlands: Elsevier. 2017. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-809633-8.02098-7.
Gowlett JA: The discovery of fire by humans: A long and convoluted process. Phil Trans R Soc B. 2016; 371: 20150164.
Martin D, Tomida M, Meacham B: Environmental impact of fire. Fire Sci Rev. 2016; 5(1): 1-21.
Erickson HE, White R: Soils under fire: Soils research and the Joint Fire Science Program, vol. 759. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 2008.
Bivolarski B: Environmental and social economic consequences of forest fires on the territory of Stara Zagora region. TJS. 2019; 17(2): 158-164.
Shlisky A, Waugh J, Gonzalez P, et al.: Fire, Ecosystems and People: Threats and Strategies for Global Biodiversity Conservation. Arlington: The Nature Conservancy, 2007.
Prichard S, Stevens-Rumann CS, Hessburg P: Tamm review: Wildland fire-on-fire interactions: Management implications under a changing climate. Forest Ecol Manag. 2017; 396: 217-233.
Hirschberger P: Forests ablaze: Causes and effects of global Forest fires. 2016. Available at https://www.de/fileadmin/fm-wwf/Publikationen-PDF/WWF-Study-Forests-Ablaze.pdf. Accessed March 26, 2020.
Tornevi A, Andersson C, Carvalho AC, et al.: Respiratory health effects of wildfire smoke during summer of 2018 in the Jämtland Härjedalen region, Sweden. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021; 18(13): 6987. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18136987.
Paveglio TB, Brenkert-Smith H, Hall T, et al.: Understanding social impact from wildfires: Advancing means for assessment. Int J Wildland Fire. 2015; 24(2): 212-224.
Brunson MW, Tanaka J: Economic and social impacts of wildfires and invasive plants in American deserts: Lessons from the great basin. Rangeland Ecol Manag. 2011; 64(5): 463-470.
Norgaard KM: The politics of fire and the social impacts of fire exclusion on the Klamath. Humboldt J Soc Relat. 2014; 36(1): 77-101.
Satendra Kaushik AD: Forest Fire Disaster Management. New Delhi: National Institute of Disaster Management, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, 2014.
Diaz JM: Economic impacts of wildfire. Southern Fire Exchange. 2012; 498: 2012-2017.
Loomis J: Do nearby Forest fires cause a reduction in residential property values? JFE. 2004; 10(3): 149-157.
Brushlinsky NN, Ahrens M, Sokolov SV, et al.: World fire statistics. 2017.
National Fire Statistics: National fire statistics 2009. 2011.
Western Cape Government, Provincial Disaster Management Centre: Annual Report 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017, Cape Town, 2017.
National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC): Annual report 2018. AIMS Math. 2019; 4(1): 166-169.
Stander J, Niekerk J, Fillis C, et al.: Guidelines: Storm surge early warning system for South Africa. 2021. Available at http://www.disaster.co.za/pics/PrJohanStander_etalDMISA2011StormSurgeEW.pdf. Accessed April 20, 2021.
Alexander P, Runciman C, Maruping B: South African Police Service Data on Crowd Incidents: A Preliminary Analysis Report. Johannesburg: Social Change Research Unit, University of Johannesburg, 2015: 1-94.
Strydom S, Savage MJ: A spatio-temporal analysis of fires in South Africa. S Afr J Sci. 2016; 112(11–12): 1-8.
Thomas D, Butry D, Gilbert S, et al.: The Costs and Losses of Wildfires: A Literature Review. NIST Special Publication 1215. Lake City, FL: National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2017: 1-72.
Forsyth G, Le Maitre D, van den Dool R, et al.: The Knysna fires of 2017: Learning from this disaster. 2019. Available at https://cisp.cachefly.net/assets/articles/attachments/78574_the_knysna_fires_of_2017_learnings_from_the_disaster.pdf. Accessed February 9, 2023.
Madondo R, Mutingwende N, Shwababa S, et al.: Analyses of trends in the fire losses and the fire-brigade call-outs in South Africa between 2004 and 2017. Geographia Technica 2022; 17(2): 54-68. DOI: 10.21163/GT_2022.172.06.
Santam: Fires cost South African businesses millions annually. 2017. Available at https://www.santam.co.za/about-us/media/commercial-lines/fires-cost-south-african-businesses-millions-annually/. Accessed November 10, 2020.
Statistics South Africa (Stats SA): General household survey. 2020. Available at www.statssa.gov.za. Accessed May 10, 2020.
Nilfisk: 5 Major causes of industrial fires and explosions. 2016. Available at https://news.nilfiskcfm.com/2016/07/5-major-causes-ofindustrial-fires-explosions/. Accessed April 4, 2021.
Fire Protection Association of Southern Africa: Informal settlement fires 2018. 2020. Available at http://www.fpasa.co.za/140-informal-settlement-fires-2018. Accessed October 5, 2020.
Boadi C, Harvey SK, Gyeke-Dako A: Modelling of fire count data: Fire disaster risk in Ghana. SpringerPlus. 2015; 4(1): 1-17.
Ruhiiga TM: Urbanisation in South Africa: A critical review of policy, planning and practice. APS. 2014; 28: 610-622.
Chikoto T: Informal Settlements in South Africa. Pretoria: University of Pretoria, 2009: 1-55.
UN Habitat: Habitat Iii Issue Paper 22—Informal Settlements. New York: UN Habitat, 2015.
Dodman D, Archer D, Mayr M: Addressing the Most Vulnerable First-Pro-Poor Climate Action in Informal Settlements. Nairobi: UN-Habitat, 2018.
Walls R, Olivier G, Eksteen R: Informal settlement fires in South Africa: Fire engineering overview and full-scale tests on “shacks”. Fire Saf J. 2017; 91: 997-1006.
Statistics South Africa (Stats SA): General household survey. 2016. Available at www.statssa.gov.za. Accessed November 13, 2020.
Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI): Informal settlements and human rights in South Africa. 2018: 26.
Lewis WC, Teesdale LV: Thermal Insulation from Wood for Buildings: Effects of Moisture and Its Control, vol. 86. Madison, WI: US Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Products Laboratory, 1968.
Chikoto T: Informal settlements in South Africa. BSc (Hons) (Quantity Surveying) thesis, Pretoria, South Africa: University of Pretoria. 2009.
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism: A comprehensive assessment of the national infrastructure relating to the legal, administration and technical aspects of chemicals management in South Africa. 2005.
Department of Transport-RSA: Freight transport—National transport master plan 2050. 2014: 1-17, Chapter 7. Available at http://www.transport.gov.za/natmap-2050. Accessed February 8, 2023.
D’Andrea MA, Reddy GK: Crude oil spill exposure and human health risks. J Occup Environ Med. 2014; 56(10): 1029-1041.
Pathak C, Mandalia HC: Petroleum industries: Environmental pollution effects, management and treatment methods. Int J Sep Environ Sci. 2012; 1(1): 55.
Pitkin J: Oil, oil, everywhere: Environmental and human impacts of oil extraction in the Niger Delta. 2013. Pomona Senior Theses. Paper 88. Available at http://scholarship.claremont.edu/pomona_theses/88. Accessed February 9, 2023.
United States Environmental Protection Agency: Acid plant new source review enforcement initiative. 2021-2022. Available at https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/acid-plant-new-source-reviewenforcement-initiative. Accessed February 8, 2023.
Rice KM, Walker EM Jr, Wu M, et al.: Environmental mercury and its toxic effects. J Prev Med Public Health. 2014; 47(2): 74-83.
Jayaraj R, Megha P, Sreedev P: Organochlorine pesticides, their toxic effects on living organisms and their fate in the environment. Interdiscipl Toxicol. 2016; 9(3-4): 90-100.
Ghorab MA, Khalil MS: Toxicological effects of organophosphates pesticides. Int J Environ Monit Anal. 2015; 3(4): 218-220.
Porwal T: Paint pollution harmful effects on environment. Int J Res Granthaalayah. 2015; 3(9): 1-3629.
Statistics South Africa: Manufacturing statistics products manufactured: Chemical, petroleum, rubber, plastic and non-metallic mineral products. 2003-2022. Available at https://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/P30412/P30412August2022.pdf. Accessed Febraury 8, 2023.
Hughes P, Ferrett E: International Health and Safety at Work: The Handbook for the NEBOSH International General Certificate. Milton Park: Routledge, 2013.
Schreiner BG, Mungatana ED, Baleta H: Impacts of drought induced water shortages in South Africa: Economic analysis report to the Water Research Commission of South Africa, WRC Report No. 2604/1/18, Pretoria, South Africa, 2018.
Correa E, Ramirez F, Sanahuja H: Working Paper: Populations at risk of disaster: A Resettlement Guide. World Bank, 2011. Available at https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/27383. Accessed February 8, 2023.
Forsyth G, Maitre DL, Town C, et al.: Gef Fynbosfire project and fire risk assessment component risk to communities at the wildland-urban interface risk to communities at the wildland-urban interface. Gef Fynbosfire Project. 2015.
Chamber R: Vulnerability coping and policy. IDS Bull. 2006; 37(4): 33-40.
Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF): Draft national drought Indaba concept note. September 2–18, 2016.
UNISDR: National Disaster Risk Management Plan. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). 2017: 1-303.
Zirogiannis N: Wildfire prevention and mitigation: The case of Southern Greece. MSs thesis, Amherst, Massacusetts: University of Massachusetts. 2009.
How to Cite
Copyright 2007-2023, Weston Medical Publishing, LLC and Journal of Emergency Management. All Rights Reserved