LEPHALALE – The future of Working on Fire (WoF) in Lephalale still hangs in the balance.
During the land rural safety meeting last Thursday 21 April, local representatives of WoF said they need approval to be stationed on the premises of the police training college that used to be the Air force in Lephalale.
Chairman of the community policing forum (CPF) Thys Eloff undertook to take it up with the cluster commander as he thinks it is a provincial issue and not a national issue.
Corne du Plessis, chairman of TOOG (Tambotie Overyssel Support Group) said that it is short sighted to think that the services of WoF are unnecessary and that each land owner can look after himself. He says there are areas where people have had great success in fighting fires with good fire fighters, but when the fires really get out of control and start covering large areas, the services of WoF are indispensable. “These people are trained to fight fires in all kinds of circumstances including mountainous areas where it is almost impossible to control the fires. Especially for people that have not been trained in it” said Corne.
Thys Eloff added that it is strange for him that working on fire battles to exist in Lephalale because wherever he goes, in the Cape, Mpumulanga or North West the communities sing the praises of WoF and are positive about the work that they do. Even Vaalwater has a very active WoF team.
The meeting came to the conclusion that those who are interested in using WoF will do so while those who are not interested will continue on their own.
The representative of WoF added that as soon as they are sure of a base for themselves, they will also get a vehicle.
Corne also recommended that in the case of fire it must be reported to the police within a 24 hour period, for if problems arise as a result of the fire you have a case number to refer to.
“We must communicate the success stories of WoF, when they arrive at the scene of a fire and the land owner is a member of the Fire Protection Association (FPA) which by the way is free, the services of WoF are then much cheaper” said Corne.
It was also decided that the WoF team in Lephalale do not get enough exposure.