Ground and aerial resources work together to combat wildfires

13 August, 2020

WOF explains how teamwork is a key ingredient to making a real difference when unwanted wildfires threaten life and limb.

Aerial firefighting is a key component in the effective combating of wildfires in South Africa. It doesn’t replace the wildland firefighting crews labouring on the ground – but through effective collaboration of air and ground resources, companies like Working on Fire are able to protect lives, properties and the environment from the devastating effects of unwanted wildfires.Working on Fire is a government-funded, job-creation programme focussed on implementing Integrated Fire Management (IFM) in South Africa by upskilling and employing previously unemployed youth as wildland firefighters. WOF has more than 5,000 firefighters based at over 200 bases across South Africa.Working on Fire (WOF) Aviation provides the WOF Programme with an aerial firefighting component. Its bomber aircraft cool down the fire line, enabling the firefighters to get closer and extinguish the flames.It currently operates 16 Spotters, 4 Air Tractor 802 Bombers, 13 Huey Helicopters and 17 Aircraft Support Vehicles.WOF Aviation’s aircraft and crew are supplied and maintained by Kishugu Aviation (Pty) Ltd and are contracted to Fire Prevention Associations (FPAs), municipalities, conservation agencies and landowners across South Africa to support ground teams in these entities’ areas of influence.Since the beginning of the 2017/2018 South African Summer Fire Season, 15 November 2018 until the end of February 2018, WOF Aviation has flown a total of 664 hours, assisting in combating 73 wildfires in the Cape – of which a number of fires ran over multiple days.
“All our bases are fully operational and ready to assist if and when needed,” says Francois Weyers, Provincial Aerial Operations Manager: Southern Regions, WOF Aviation.
By working together with the WOF ground crews and other wildfire firefighting agencies, WOF Aviation helps make a real difference when wildfires threaten life and limb.

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