You know you’re one when: your friends start rolling their eyes at your fire talk, your nose starts twitching when someone lights up a braaivleis fire, you have bottles of water in your freezer and a stash of snacks in your cupboard, and when you keep an eye on your phone to monitor conversations about the fire danger index and the smoke that someone spotted somewhere.
“My whole life revolves around fire. Fighting it, waiting to fight it and planning in case we have to fight it,” one of the volunteers said recently. After responding to a call-out SMS and being added to a crew, you suit up, leave for base and prepare yourself for anything between eight and twelve hours of hard but rewarding work.
Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) has been combating dangerous and sometimes deadly runaway fires since its baptism through the devastating fires in 1999 / 2000 in Cape Town. With approximately 220 members at four stations (Newlands, Jonkershoek, South Peninsula and most recently Grabouw) VWS is a highly organised NPO, fully run and managed by volunteers.
In January, the VWS deployed 54 crews, at an average of 1.7 crews out on a fire line every day. A total of 3889 operational hours were racked up during 486 individual operational shifts, giving an average of 8 hours per deployment.
On paper VWS members don’t have much in common. They vary in age from students to people who are retired, they all have different day jobs and they live in towns and suburbs all over the Peninsula and Boland.
But what binds them together is quite significant – a desire to protect and preserve the environment, to give something back to the community and to be part of a passionate group of volunteers.
If you are interested in joining up, or need more info, please contact: