Working on Fire is dedicated to saving lives and protecting the environment through wildland firefighting. But at the same time, WOF strives towards restoring dignity, and enabling and uplifting young South Africans.
WOF accomplishes this by offering training programmes, which open doors to a myriad of careers. Numerous WOF Programme participants, who started off as basic firefighters, used the opportunity as a platform to launch from. Some have become Crew Leaders, moved up in WOF management, joined other forces like the South African Police Service or started their own businesses.
In order to open up doors into the aviation industry, while contributing to the safety of its aerial firefighting operations, WOF successfully implements Helitack and Flying Crewmen programmes.
Managing Director for Working on Fire, Trevor Abrahams explains that Working on Fire wants to create a platform for firefighters to further their careers in the aviation industry.” “We believe that the skills and experience they gain while training to become, and working as helitack crew members and later flying crewmen, will enable them to someday become either aviation engineers or even pilots.”
“These men and women are selected based on leadership skills, job performance and passion for aviation,” says Carel van der Merwe, Head of Kishugu Aviation Training Organisation (ATO), who conducts this specialised training. “They undergo rigorous and in-depth training, especially the flying crewmen, to ensure that they are equipped and can competently perform their jobs.”
A helitack team consists of six firefighters: one Helitack Crew Leader (previously known as Helicopter Safety Leaders) and five crew members. They serve as first responders to wildfires.
The helitack team is led by a helitack crew leader. He or she is responsible for ensuring that the team and all their equipment embarks and disembarks the aircraft safely.