Reasons for FPAs
  • Co-operation among rural owners and managers of land is required for the effective management of veldfires.
  • The Act provides a framework for a consistent way for owners to organise and collaborate in veldfire management.
  • Rural landowners need to have a collective self-sufficiency to manage veldfires because it is too costly for government to provide these services.

Advantages of registered FPAs
  • Decreased risk of veldfires.
  • Promotion of co-operation in managing veldfires.
  • No presumption of negligence in civil claims.
  • Cost saving through sharing of services.
  • Advice and assistance to members from government and other services.
  • Possible assistance from the Minister.
  • Potential financial support from local government.
  • Establishment of reasonable norms and standards for veldfire management in an area by means of FPA rules.
  • Establishment of a fair and equitable basis for managing and sharing risk through an FPA's business plan.
  • Powers under the Act conferred on registered fire protection officers (FPOs).
  • Support from umbrella FPAs where these exist.
  • Improved communication between FPA members.
  • Improved communication between members and the Minister and other roleplayers.
  • Provision of possible relief from certain prevention measures, for example, the duty to create and maintain firebreaks.
  • Stronger negotiation powers by virtue of being part of an organised group.
  • Possibility of reduced insurance premiums.

Costs of forming and running an FPA
  • The costs of forming and running an FPA include:
    • Time needed for meetings to set up and run the FPA.
    • Having to report to the Minister on fire statistics and provide information for the fire danger rating system.
    • Financial contributions to running costs of the FPA:
      • salary of the FPO and his or her staff
      • office expenses
      • information and communication
      • travelling expenses
      • contributions to umbrella FPAs.
    • Members' commitment to keeping the FPA running properly, for example, keeping a register of members, informing members of the current fire danger rating, and reporting on fires.

Costs versus benefits
  • An FPA should not be formed where its costs will be greater than the benefits it provides to members (FPAs should be cost-beneficial).
  • FPAs should be established in areas where the hazard of veldfires justifies the costs of organising and maintaining the FPA.
  • The justifiable level of hazard must be judged locally. Establishing an FPA could be cost-beneficial in the following situations:
    • where there is a hazard of veldfires on the urban edge of a city or a town
    • where forest plantations are exposed to wildfires
    • where emergent stock farmers are exposed to wildfires.
When may an FPA be formed?
Section 3 of the Act says any group of owners who wish to co-operate to predict, prevent, manage and extinguish veldfires may form an FPA.

Who is an "owner"?
“Owner” has its common law meaning and includes:
  • any landowner with a title deed to property
  • lessees
    • lessees who lease DWAF commercial plantations
    • a person who rents land from the owner
  • any person controlling land under a contract
    • a lease is a type of contract
  • any person controlling land under a law
    • for example, managers of State forests who control the land under the National Forests Act
  • any person controlling land under a will
    • for example, where someone has the right to control land until she dies, at which point it will go to the heir
  • any person controlling land under an order of the High Court
  • the executive body of a community set up under its constitution, law or custom
  • a Minister or person authorised by him/her where the land is State land and it is not controlled by someone else
  • a member of the executive council or a person authorised by him/her where the land is provincial land and is not controlled by someone else
  • the chief executive officer of any local authority or a person authorised by him/her.

What about communities?
  • Land controlled by a community could be private land (where the community owns it), or State land held in trust.
  • Most land controlled by communities is held in trust by the State or the Ingonyama Trust.
  • The Act states that where land is controlled by a community, regardless of the ownership of the land, the executive body of that community is the owner.
  • The executive body can exist in terms of:
    • its constitution (where the community has formed a communal property association and owns the land)
    • any law (for example, where a tribal authority was appointed by law) or
    • custom or customary law (where a chief or headman and the tribal elders may control the land)
  • Several different communites may control portions of a single piece of State land held in trust.
  • Each community should be represented in the FPA by its executive body.

What about State land?
Only where State land is not controlled by:
  • a person contemplated in s2(1)(xiii)(a) (a title deed holder, lessee, or person controlling the land in terms of a contract, will, law or order of the High Court) or
  • a community
will the Minister of the government department or member of the provincial executive council exercising control over the land, or a person authorised by him or her, need to be represented on the FPA.

Membership of FPAs is voluntary for most owners
  • Landowners can choose whether to join the FPA or not.
  • This is because:
    • The right to freedom of association in the Constitution must be upheld.
    • Landowners themselves need to make firm commitments to co-operate through FPAs.

Who is compelled to join an FPA?
  • The owners of:
    • State land
    • municipal land where there is a fire service
    must join an FPA if one forms in their area.
  • State land means:
    • national or provincial land
    • land held in trust for communities by the Minister of Land Affairs or the Ingonyama Trust
    • excluding municipal land

Boundaries of FPAs
  • Section 3: The area where an FPA is formed should be relatively uniform in terms of:
    • having regular veldfires or
    • its veldfire risk or
    • its climatic conditions or
    • its forest types or other vegetation
  • Form FPAs only where they are definitely needed.
  • The area of an FPA should be optimum, that is, not too big to be able to fulfil duties and not too small to justify the costs involved.
  • The Act leaves this matter open – each case must be judged on its own circumstances.
  • An FPA may usefully correspond with one or more local municipalities (category B).
  • But there may be cases where an FPA would for good reasons include only part of the area of a local municipality.

Prioritisation of FPAs
  • DWAF has established the framework for priorities in the country, by using a “risk assessment” modelling approach that ranks district municipalities according to the overall fire risk in each district.
  • This risk assessment informs the work of the national, provincial and local disaster management centres (DMCs).
  • This assessment guides Fire Advisors in their communication with local initiators of FPAs:
    • district DMCs
    • fire services (chief fire officers - CFOs)
    • emerging umbrella FPAs
    • local leaders
    • nature conservation authorities
  • Fire Advisors advise initiators on the priorities for their districts and the optimum configuration for FPAs in their districts.

Where no FPA has been formed
  • The Minister may intervene when no FPA has been formed in an area in which s/he is of the opinion one should be formed.
  • The Minister may call a meeting to discuss setting up an FPA and to establish what kind of support is required.

Related resources

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