The National Veld and Forest Fire Act (NVFFA) makes landowners responsible to prevent and extinguish veld, forest and mountain fires (veldfires) on their own properties while recognizing that the effective management of wildfires remains a common concern needing an integrated and co-operative approach to ensure sustainability of effort. The NVFFA provides for the collective management of veldfire risks on a local level by providing for the formation of FPA’s with the intent to predict, prevent, manage, and extinguish wildfires using local knowledge within the framework provided by the Act. FPA’s are not firefighting clubs, they have a legal obligation to manage the veldfire risk in a community in an integrated manner.
Supressing veldfires is only one of the tools available to manage the veldfire risk within a community and the benefits of a correctly functioning FPA far exceeds communal firefighting. Chiefly the FPA must assist its members to reasonably comply with legislation in an economically sustainable way while assisting to reduce the actual wildfire related risks. When and where a wildfire does occur members must be able to access additional resources to reduce potential losses and be in a position to access insurance products where material losses were sustained. The statutory mandate given to an FPA in terms of the NVFFA places a social and legal responsibility on FPA’s to function as an inclusive community-based organisation enabling various categories of land users, including municipalities and state land users, to implement integrated veldfire management practices on a local, district and provincial level. The degree of FPA functionality determines the extent of local community resilience to wildfire risks.
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