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THE NATIONAL VELD AND FOREST FIRE ACT, 101 OF 1998. As amended by the National Forest & Fire Laws Amendment Act, 12 of 2001. INTRODUCTION.

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the national veld and forest fire act 101 of 1998

As amended by the National Forest & Fire Laws Amendment Act, 12 of 2001


South Africa is home to a variety of ecosystems in which fire plays a role, e.g, fynbos. Periodically the ecosystems accumulate large volumes of fine fuels when preceded by good rainfall, which become fire hazard. These fuel loads need to be managed to acceptable levels to minimise the consequences of wildfires.

veldfires in south africa
Veldfires in South Africa
  • Veldfires = veld, forest and mountain fires
  • Veld = unenclosed land
  • South Africa is becoming more vulnerable to veldfires owing to urbanisation and investment in rural development
  • Wildfires cause human death and injury, loss of property, loss of livelihoods and degradation to environment
veldfires in sa cont
Veldfires in SA [Cont.]


  • 1994, SAFCOL Sabie: 10 Fire Fighters killed; two vehicles burnt, timber losses exceeded R1 million.
  • 1998, Tsitsikama: 6 ppl killed, 60 000ha fynbos destroyed; Gauteng 20 killed in traffic pile up; 4 killed in Mpumalanga
  • Jan 2000, Cape Peninsula, supp cost R3 million; insurance claims R5 billion, 200 shacks destroyed but no life lost
  • Sept 2001 , Kruger National Park, 23 people killed
  • Aug/ Sept 2003, Mpumalanga, timber loss estimated @R3b – R4bn
the national veld forest fire act nv ffa
The National Veld & Forest Fire Act (NV&FFA)
  • Complementary Law to Fire Brigades Services Act
  • Fully deployed except for chap 3 (FDR)
  • Applicable on countryside, beyond urban edge
  • NVFFA & Fire Brigades Services Act – two laws to manage and fight fires
main features of the nv ffa
Main features of the NV&FFA
  • Chap 2: Fire Protection Associations
  • Chap 3: Fire Danger Rating
  • Chap 4: Firebreaks
  • Chap 5: Fire Fighting
  • Chap 7: Enforcement
2 fire protection associations
2. Fire Protection Associations
  • Vehicles for veldfire management and prevention
  • Formed by landowners with regular veldfires, uniform vegetation and similar exposure to veldfire risks
membership of fpas is voluntary for most owners
Membership of FPAs is voluntary for most owners
  • Private landowners can choose whether to join the FPA or not.
  • This is because:
    • the right to freedom of association in the Constitution must be upheld
    • Landowners themselves need to make firm commitments to co-operate through FPAs
who is compelled to join an fpa
Who is Compelled to join an FPA?

It is compulsory for State land owners to join a FPAs where these have been formed (s8);

Where an FPA has been registered in an area where all or part is controlled by a municipality and that municipality has a service or in which there is a designated service, THE MUNICIPALITY or DESIGNATED SERVICE must become a member of the FPA (s7)

duties of fire protection associations
Duties of Fire Protection Associations

To its members:

  • Develop veldfire management strategy
  • Co-ordination actions for fire fighting
  • Make rules binding their members
  • Communicate fire danger rating
  • Training in fire fighting
  • Appoint a Fire Protection Officer
advantages of forming fpas
Advantages of forming FPAs

Sharing of resources creates synergy

  • Saving on costs – avoid duplication of work
  • Enforceable rules of FPA protect members
  • FPO empowered to enforce the Act
  • Information sharing between members
  • Free access to research commissioned by Minister
  • Possible exemption from preparing firebreaks
  • Possibility of receiving financial assistance
fire protection officer
Fire Protection Officer

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FPA

  • If a municipality forms part of the FPA or has a service, its Chief Fire Officer will be the FPO unless s/he declines - s6(2)
  • If more than one municipalities – election takes place among willing CFOs
  • If no fire service, members elect FPO of their choice.

Duties of FPO:

  • Take control of fire fighting if fire threatens life or property
  • Enforce FPA rules and other provisions of the Act
  • Train members on aspects of veldfire mgt
  • Carry out inspections in pursuit of compliance
3 fire danger rating
3. Fire Danger Rating
  • The Minister will establish and maintain a National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) for South Africa
  • Early warning system for fire danger
  • Dangerous activities prohibited when Fire Danger Index (FDI) is high or extreme
  • High/ extreme FDI to be communicated to public through print and electronic media (TV, radio and newspapers)
nfdrs cont
  • US Fire Danger Rating System chosen as a model for RSA (CSIR recommendations)
  • SAWS and DWAF working closely to operationalise the system
  • Planned for late 2004 (October) but testing currently underway in Mpumalanga & KZN
4 responsibilities of landowners
4. Responsibilities of landowners


All landowners must:

  • prepare firebreaks on their boundary, if there is a reasonable risk of fire crossing over:

- break should be long and wide enough

- relatively free of flammable material

- environmentally friendly (no erosion)

  • Notify neighbours of intent to burn firebreaks
  • Burn common f/breaks together (shared responsibilities)
5 fire fighting
5. Fire Fighting

Readiness for fire fighting

Every landowner will:

  • Have adequate fire fighting equipment
  • Have trained personnel as prescribed or reasonably required for veldfire suppression
  • Do everything in their power to stop the spread of veldfires

In his/her absence ensure that others are present to:

  • Extingush veldfires
  • Alert adjoining landowners of veldfires as they occur
  • Alert FPA if any
offences penalties
Offences & Penalties


  • Category 1: A fine or imprisonment up to 2 yrs or both
  • Category 2: A fine or imprisonment up to 1 yr or both
  • Category 3: A fine or 6 months of community service or both
examples of offences
Examples of Offences

Category 1

  • Making fire in the open air when FDI is high or extreme

Category 2

  • Failure to prepare firebreak
  • Failure to meet readiness standards

Category 3

  • Hindering an FPO from performing their duties
enforcement agencies
Enforcement Agencies
  • Fire Protection Officer
  • Police Officer
  • Forest Officer appointed under the National Forest Act of 1998
  • An officer appointed in terms of the Fire Brigade Services Act
sections of the act in effect
Sections of The Act in Effect

All chapters in effect exceptCHAPTER 3 (Fire Danger Rating)- needs establishment of NFDRS

Sections in effect from 1 April 1999

  • Ss 1 - 2
  • Ss 14 - 38

Sections in effect from 2 July 1999

  • Ss 12 - 13

Chapter 2 in effect from 1 August 2003

implications for other govt departments
Implications for other govt departments
  • Fire is a concurrent competency of National & Provincial spheres of Govt.(SA Constitution)
  • The notion of co-operative governance needs to be upheld
  • National offices develop policies, legislations and frameworks, implementation is on a local level (municipalities)
  • Veldfire classification in SA is based on municipalities
  • Veldfire management strategy of a FPA is integral part of IDPs developed in terms of the Municipal Structures Act.
implications cont
Implications Cont.
  • Rep from local municipality (Mayor, CFO etc) needs to recommend FPA formation and sign-off the registration form
  • Municipalities have to approve FPA Business Plans
  • Municipalities to include veldfire elements in their IDPs for budgeting purposes

N.B. Fire is also an environmental issue

implications for sandf
Implications for SANDF
  • Some SANDF land falls in extreme, high or medium risk areas
  • SANDF must make firebreaks where is reasonable risk of fire starting or spreading from land
  • Must have trained personnel in place and adequate fire fighting equipment
  • Must join FPA which includes areas of SANDF land (because it is required by NVFFA as State land owner)
implications for sandf26
Implications for SANDF
  • Because of high risk activities in some SANDF land, could initiate formation of FPAs
  • Like all landowners, must not light fires or undertake any activities which could lead to fires on high or extreme days under NFDRS
  • Notify SANDF members on days of high or extreme fire danger
background picture courtesy of ukuvuka thank you
Background picture courtesy of UKUVUKA. Thank you

Pictures: courtesy of


Thank You