Article 1: FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATIONS – what is an FPA?
A Fire Protection Association (commonly known as a FPA) is a legislated entity in terms of the National Veld & Forest Fire Act 101, 1998 (NVFFA) and is responsible for the coordination and implementation of Integrated Fire Management (IFM) strategies within its area of operation, incorporating landowners / land users into its membership.
To date, there has been good progress with the registration of FPA’s within the Eastern Cape and the appointment of full-time Fire Protection Officers (FPO’s), remains a major hurdle within the FPA environment. Most FPA’s do not employ dedicated staff and are largely dependent on volunteers and well-resourced members to support their ongoing functioning and sustainability. While the NVFFA does not intend that FPA’s are formed where the costs of the Association are greater than the benefits derived by its members, it is important that ALL landowners, inclusive of local and district government, participate in the structure of a FPA to ensure the key duties, responsibilities and objectives of the FPA can be achieved for the benefit of the broader community. The funds raised through membership fees will assist in coordinating the effective implementation of integrated fire management principles, in turn ensure the overall fire safety within the FPA area of operation.
FPA’s are generally established within municipal boundaries, to collect and collate data which will assist to predict, prevent and manage wildfire risks in the defined area of operation. As noted funding of FPA’s is primarily sourced from membership subscriptions and staffed by a volunteer Executive Committee and a volunteer Fire Protection Officer –in some instances FPA’s are in a position to employ a full-time FPO which makes a credible difference to the day-to-day operations of the FPA. Hence, it is of utmost important to subscribe as a member to your local FPA.
FPA’s facilitate the implementation of Integrated Fire Management principles through the prediction, prevention and suppression of wildfires by pooling resources.
FPA’s are focused on the achievement of the following objectives:
Ø To inform and train the community on the risks of fire, to ensure fire prevention and planning is used to mitigate fire
Ø To ensure planning and resources are in place to proactively ensure communities within the FPA area of operation are appropriately protected in the context of rural fire reduction, readiness, response and recovery.
Ø To ensure fire suppression is coordinated and effective.
Ø To ensure minimum equipment and personnel standards are met or exceeded
Ø To ensure landowners are educated about forest and rural fire prevention.
Ø To implement a personnel fire fighter training programme for the benefit of all members.
Ø Provide quality maps to volunteers / fire wardens to assist them in their work.
Ø To facilitate a radio network covering its area of operation
Ø Establish relationships and management systems with sister agencies (such as Provincial government departments, commercial forestry and local government fire services) to provide good working relationships and to ensure appropriate levels of hazard reduction are achieved.
Ø Manage and co-ordinate all veld & forest fire suppression operations in its area of operation
Ø To develop joint Development Control arrangements with local Municipalities
FPA’s can and have formed, Provincial Umbrella Fire Protection Association’s (UFPA’s) which ideally operate within the Provincial boundaries and which are aligned to the Provincial Disaster Management Centre. The formation of UFPA’s has hugely benefited local FPA’s, through shared resources and services approach to integrated fire management.