Working on Fire
Working on Fire manages an Integrated Fire Management Programme which includes fire management planning, detection, prevention, suppression, dispatch and coordination and community fire awareness activities.
Working on Fire
Working on Fire is an Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) aimed at providing work opportunities to young men and women. The Programme resides under, and is funded by, the Department of Environmental Affairs.
Participants are recruited from marginalised communities and trained in fire awareness and education, fire prevention and fire suppression skills. In addition, they are also trained in skills such as first aid, carpentry, cooking, health and safety and communications.
Working on Fire recruits and trains young men and women from across South Africa, with a strong focus on marginalized communities and people with disabilities. There are currently more than 5000 participants in the Programme, 94% of whom are youth, 31% are women (the highest level in any comparable fire service in the world) and 3% disabled.
Working on Fire (WOF) is a South African, government-funded, multi-partner organisation. The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) provides the main funding and structure for the programme and forms an integral part of the South African Government’s future planning for the custodianship of South Africa’s natural environment.
Working on Fire promotes capacity building among participants and runs various programmes, which help to develop the social cohesion of these participants. Empowering participants to make informed decisions, and also helping them with financial and social related problems, makes up a vital part of the programme’s initiatives.
Working On Fire History
The Kishugu Group (formarly known as the FFA Group of Companies) was awarded a tender by National Government in 2003 to implement an aerial and ground resource plan for fighting veld fires.
This was the first of its kind in South Africa and it took much research, both locally and internationally, to come up with a strategy which could be practically applied in the unique South African landscape. The result was – Working on Fire, officially launched in September 2003.
The Programme was initially funded by the government and the commercial forestry sector. Embedded in the Expanded Public Works Programme, the project combined sound land management principles, and best practice wildland firefighting expertise, with the need to create jobs and develop skills.
Given the impact of annual fires across the countryside and in the urban areas, there was a need for an agency that could train a firefighting hand-crew, and could base these teams locally but deployed nationally when necessary. The overall strategy was to apply the principles of integrated fire management, in order to reduce the frequency and impact of uncontrolled veld fires.
Since 2003, the Kishugu Group has been re-awarded the Project WP9191 tender and the project has grown by 30% per annum. In 2013, Working on Fire (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary company within the Kishugu Group, was awarded the seven year contract to implement the Working on Fire programme on behalf of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental (DFFE).
Functions and Portfolios
Working on Fire Executive Committee (EXCO)
It is the structure through which the MD is able to obtain input in managing the company and keeping the EXCO members to account for their specific portfolios. The EXCO Members are hence responsible for providing guidance on the overall direction and management of the company and providing the strategic guidance and management of their portfolios.
The Executive Committee shall be specifically responsible for:1. Adopting the annual operating plans and annual budget of the company. 2. Providing Strategic Direction on the day to day business and affairs of the Company. Specifically: The development, review and monitoring of the implementation of policies of the Company; Establishing best management practices and functional standards; The adoption of implementation strategies of the Company; Prioritising and allocating the Company’s capital, technical and human resources. 3. Providing input to the Senior management appointments in Working on Fire and reviewing the performance management of and incentivising WOF personnel. 4. Maintaining a group-wide system of internal control to manage all group risks associated with WOF’s operations are effectively managed in line with the DEA contract and the Ministerial Determination. 5. Ensure that the policies and practices of Working on Fire are complaint with all legal and regulatory prescripts. 6. Make recommendations, request for action and table reports to the Board relating to matters beyond the scope of its authority. 7. The Executive is authorised to form sub-committees to assist it in the execution of its duties.
Managing Director – Responsible for the overall leadership and management of the company.
Chief Operating Officer (COO) – Responsible for coordinating the WOF EXCO and its clusters, monitoring the overall health of the organisation and deputizing for the MD where needed.
Piet van der Merwe
Executive: Operations – Responsible for all the operations aspects of the company, including WOF Operations, WOF Services, WOF Aviation (shared with MD) and other WOF programmes (HAT, DRP and FSP).
Acting Executive: Transport Department.
Executive: Fire Awarenesss and Social Development – Responsible for overseeing the company’s Social Development needs and Fire Awareness functions.
Executive: Information Technology – Responsible for Information Technology, Information Management and Dispatch & Coordination Functions.
Executive: Finance, SCM & Asset Management – Responsible for the financial, supply chain and asset management of the company.
Executive: Human Capital (HCM) Management – Responsible for all the human resources functions in the company.
Acting Executive: Occupational Health and Safety – Responsible for the management of the OHS functions in the company.
Executive: Audit, Risk & Quality Assurance – Responsible for the management, monitoring and coordination of Audit, Risk and Compliance related activities within the company.
Executive: Communication and Marketing – Responsible for offering strategic direction within the communication and marketing department.
The Working on Fire (WOF) programme, funded by the Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries, will be reaching a milestone of having been in existence for 17 years during the month of September.