Wildfire is a regular occurrence in South Africa and the impacts thereof is extensive. Wildfires destroy croplands, grazing, forests and homes and can also affect natural vegetation. This leads to great financial losses, especially for people who do not have insurance.
Although fires are a necessary part of the natural cycle of life, if they are uncontrolled or occur too frequently, they damage biological diversity. In order to limit the damage caused by fire, the law sets out a number of prevention measures that people must adopt to avoid a wildfire. The also law provides for the establishment of fire protection associations.


Umbrella Fire Protection Associations are umbrella structures providing overarching coordination and support to FPAs at a provincial or regional level. The National Veld and Forest Fire Act (101 of 1998) provides for the establishment of such structures but does not assign any specific mandates to them. Instead, the Act provides for the realignment of mandates by the Minister.


In respect of coordination and oversight, the UFPA is envisaged to:

  • coordinate and standardise systems used by FPAs in the region;

  • rationalise common services to increase efficiencies and reduce costs;

  • coordinate infrastructure inputs for the deployment and coordination of firefighting resources;

  • facilitate increased awareness and coordinate training to strengthen Integrated Fire Management;

  • liaise and coordinate with the provincial disaster management centre, provincial agencies and other parastatals to secure active participation and mobilisation of IFM resources; and

  • fulfill a monitoring and evaluation role.


The second pillar of UFPA work is centered on brokering, coordination, and management of partnerships in respect of IFM, Disaster Management, and National Resource management. To avoid overlapping roles with FPAs, the UFPA work should be focused on:

  • coordination of international partnerships around common areas of interest and with regions with similar biomes;

  • province-wide industry partnerships such as with the insurance industry; and

  • development of new institutional partnerships within Natural Resource Management such as around carbon taxes.


The third pillar of work is around the collation and sharing of knowledge. The UFPA sits on knowledge that is of value to researchers, industry partners (such as the insurance industry), and academics, both locally and internationally. Linked to knowledge collation, analysis and sharing is a training role that is already being performed in a limited way. Therefore the UFPA should ideally be responsible for:

  • collation of provincial-wide data analysing trends in Integrated Fire Management;

  • participation in Integrated Fire Management and Natural Resource Management research initiatives; and

  • compilation of information on new approaches and lessons in IFM practice.


Integrated Fire Management (IFM) incorporates different fire management activities in a strategic framework to reduce the overall impact of unwanted wildfire damage, and to promote the beneficial use of fire.
Integrated Fire Management can be defined as a series of actions that includes fire awareness activities, fire prevention activities, prescribed burning, resource sharing and co-ordination, fire detection, fire suppression, fire damage rehabilitation and research at local, provincial and national levels, in order to create a sustainable and well balanced environment, reduce unwanted wildfire damage, and to promote the beneficial use of fire.
A clear and shared understanding of Integrated Fire Management is key to the success of engaging all stakeholders involved in fire management.


Various pieces of legislation impact on Integrated Fire Management and set out mandates for different stakeholders. This legislation stipulates that various government departments, spheres of government, and the private sector are mandated to deal with aspects of Integrated Fire Management responsibilities. In many cases these mandates overlap, in others there is a lack of clarity.
While the inconsistencies and overlaps can be easily addressed through cooperative governance agreements and structures, it makes for a complex institutional context.

National Veld and Forest Fire Act
(Act No. 101 of 1998)

This Act is specific to wildland fires and outlines the responsibilities and mandates of both public and
private bodies in respect of wildland fires, The Act provides for the establishment of Fire Protection Associations (FPAs) and the adoption of a fire danger rating system.

Fire Brigade Services Act
(Act No. 99 of 1987)

The Act is the primary piece of legislation regulating fire services and seeks to provide for the establishment, maintenance, employment, coordination, and standardisation of fire brigade services.
In terms of the Act, district and local municipalities are required to establish a fire fighting service.

National Environmental Management Act (NEMA)
(Act No. 107 of 1998)

The Act provides for the management of natural resources. Wildland fires have a significant impact on natural resources, with the result that the Department has embarked on a wildfire management initiative under the umbrella of the Working on Fire Programme.

Disaster Management Act
(Act No. 57 of 2002)

The Act provides for an integrated and coordinated disaster management policy that focuses on preventing or reducing the risk of disasters, mitigating the severity of disasters, emergency preparedness, rapid and effective response to disasters, and post-disaster recovery amongst others.