Fire disaster management in South Africa: Look at statistics and impacts




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.

Author Biographies

Rennifer Madondo, BPharm

Student, Department of Chemistry, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

Roman Tandlich, PhD

Professor, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

Siviwe Shwababa, PhD

Research Associate, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa


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How to Cite

Madondo, R., R. Tandlich, and S. Shwababa. “Fire Disaster Management in South Africa: Look at Statistics and Impacts”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 21, no. 8, July 2023, pp. 177-00, doi:10.5055/jem.0625.