FIREFIGHTERSWOF employs more than 5000 young men and women who have been fully trained as wildfire firefighters.
Working on Fire (WOF) was launched in September 2003 as part of the South African Government’s initiative to create jobs and to alleviate poverty.
Today, WOF employs more than 5000 young men and women, who have been fully trained as wildfire firefighters and are stationed in more than 200 bases throughout South Africa. WOF addresses the prevention and control of wildland fires to enhance the sustainability and protection of life, properties and the environment through the implementation of Integrated Fire Management solutions.
Due to conditions such as extreme heat, mountainous terrain and strong winds, it is essential that our firefighters are physically capable. Fitness – acquired through continuous fitness training at the bases – ensures that our firefighters can function safely and effectively when deployed to a fireline.
A Working on Fire team typically consists of a crew of twenty-five firefighters, led by a Crew Leader.
WOF firefighters are typically called to assist with the management of local and national wildfires. In cooperation with authorities and Fire Prevention Associations (FPAs), WOF implements Integrated Fire Management Solutions (IFMS). This includes creating fire awareness, proactively putting preventative measures in place (conducting prescribed burns and reducing fuel loads), partaking in suppression operations and rehabilitate burnt areas.
Integrated Fire Management (IFM) is a series of actions that include fire awareness, prevention, detection, suppression and rehabilitation.
Integrated Fire Management (IFM) is a series of actions that include fire awareness, prevention, detection, suppression and rehabilitation. IFM is carried out at local, provincial and national levels to create a sustainable and balanced environment, reduce unwanted wildfire damage and promote the beneficial use of fire.
Opportunities in the Working on Fire Programme
WOF participants are given the opportunity to progress within the Programme, from firefighters to Crew Leaders, Base Managers and Regional Managers. There are also various other positions available within the Programme that are most often filled by participants who have moved up the rank from firefighter level.
These include Finance Control and Human Resource Practitioners, General Office Administration Clerks, Stock Controllers, Firefighter Trainers and Instructors, Health and Safety Practitioners, Fire Awareness Officers, Base Communication Representatives and Communication Officers. Some participants also have the opportunity to do more training in computer skills and driver training.
The life skills components of the basic training provide participants with a platform for personal growth in order to potentially progress up the ranks of the Programme. Many participants have become managers in the Programme and others have been employed in permanent positions outside of Working on Fire.
After passing stringent fitness tests, recruits are put through rigorous training based on national and international standards, which equip them to work as wildfire firefighters. They are deployed in “hotshot” crews of 25 under supervision of crew leaders at bases near fire prone areas across South Africa.
The WOF Programme is founded on a high level of training in basic fire fighting skills, life skills training and various specialist training for all firefighters. These opportunities are in place so that throughout their time in the programme, firefighters can improve their skills.
Further Formal Training
The Scholarship Fund aims to provide resources to participants to pursue further formal training, which will improve their skills, knowledge and employability.
Diplomas and Degrees
Many participants have already progressed up the ranks of the Programme into management and administration roles. However, the funding from the Programme cannot always cover extended further studies. The Scholarship Fund, through internal and external funding, should provide the financial opportunities for chosen wildfire firefighters to study towards a diploma, degree or even a pilots license.
The fund will be managed by a committee consisting of former participants and Programme Managers, chaired by the Executive Chairman of Kishugu. All contributors to the Fund will receive annual statements on the utilisation of funds and participants’ progress. Contributions to this fund will greatly enhance the ability of the participants to improve their skills and knowledge and improve their employment opportunities and the contribution they make within their communities.