BACKGROUND TO THE NATIONAL FIRE DANGER RATING SYSTEM
Chapter 3 of the National Veld and Forest Fire Act requires the establishment of a National Fire Danger Rating System. Such a system has a number of components:
The national system is designed to apply in 42 distinct regions each with different fire conditions. Within each region data relating to flammable fuel structure and condition (fuel models) must be specified, together with daily forecast weather data, for inputting to the fire danger model. This model is used to calculate daily forecast Fire Danger Index values. The forecast indices of fire danger are then entered into a Fire Danger Rating Table. The table classifies fire danger rating five categories:
- When the danger rating is insignificant (blue), the fire danger is so low that no precaution is needed.
- When the rating is low (green), fires including prescribed burns may be allowed in the open air on the condition that persons making fires take reasonable precautions against fires spreading.
- When the rating is moderate (yellow), the fire danger is such that no fires may be allowed in the open air except those that are authorised by the Chief Fire Officer of the local fire service and those in designated fireplaces; authorised fires may include prescribed burns.
- When the rating is high (orange), the fire danger is such that no fires may be allowed under any circumstances in the open air.
- When the rating is extreme (red), the fire danger is such that no fires may be allowed under any circumstances in the open air, and special emergency fire preparedness measures must be invoked.
The index value leads to a danger rating for the region, which is communicated daily to relevant parties, and broadcast to everyone if the rating is high or extreme.
The National Veldfire Information System, which will be available for the management of fire reports from fire protection associations and others, will be employed in the continuous improvement of the Fire Danger Rating System, among other things.
This chapter of the Act (Chapter 3) will take effect after pilot trials of the system are complete.
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