Roles of stakeholders in veld fire management

 
05 July 2017

published by http://www.herald.co.zw


Zimbabwe - The tropical storm Cyclone Dineo which hit Zimbabwe during the last rain season resulted in the growth of massive vegetation which translated to fuel load, an essential ingredient for veld fire occurrences.

The dry season is upon us and it is imperative for everyone to know their role in preventing and controlling veld fires which have become an annual catastrophe destroying velds, property worth millions of dollars and human life.

In the past seven years, from 2010 to date, 85 have people have died as a result of veld fires during the dry season.

In our bid to address this challenge, the following stakeholders are critical in veld fire management:

1.Traditional Leaders

They are empowered under the traditional leaders Act to apprehend and prosecute environmental law offenders including those that breach veld fire regulations. Traditional leaders are encouraged to:
Spearhead the construction of standard fireguards in their communities.
Establish fire–fighting teams within the local communities who will lead the rest of the community in extinguishing veld fires.
Use traditional courts to sanction veld fire offenders.
Keep a record of all the veld fire occurrences in their areas since they are on the ground and to hold fire awareness meetings and campaigns throughout the fire season.
Establish a veld fire alert system in every village such as drum beat, bell/gong or whistle.

2.Farmers

Farms are vulnerable because crop residues act as fuel which is required for the occurrence of veld fires.
Farmers should construct standard fireguards every year which are at least 9m wide on both sides of the farm boundaries and also internal fireguards which are 4,5m around plantations and fields in order to protect crops.
Ensure that fire-fighting equipment such as; water filled knapsack sprayers and bowser, fire beaters and sacks are at an accessible point during the fire season.
Report all fire incidences to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) or EMA offices within 7 days.
Have agreed fire alert systems such as drums, whistles and bells;
Listen to weather personnel on the fire danger index so as to improve your state of preparedness.

3.Law Enforcers/ The ZRP/EMA/Forestry Commission:

Prosecutes veld fire offenders.
Holds awareness meetings with communities on veld fire management,
Establishes fire fighting teams in the local communities and

4.School Children

School children should:
Not try to cross over veld fires as this may result in fire related fatalities.
Immediately report fire incidences to adults such as parents or teachers before the fires spread and should not in any way attempt to extinguish the fires in the absence of adults.
Never climb trees to flee from a veld fire as both you and the tree can be burnt to death.

5.Smokers, Motorists and travellers

Smokers should extinguish their cigarette stubs before throwing them away to avoid veld fires.
Motorists should ensure that car electrical systems are serviced and mechanical parts such as the exhaust must be tightened to avoid sparks created after rubbing onto the road.
Do not drive through flames or areas where your vision is obscured by smoke from veld fires.
Travellers boarding early morning buses should completely extinguish road side fires used to keep warm whilst waiting for transport. This can be done using water or moist soil.

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