Working on Fire-Kishugu Joint Venture’s New Recruits Bolster Firefighting Forces in Global Wildfire Response


Working on Fire

Working on Fire

In a world where wildland fires increasingly threaten lives, properties, and the environment, the significance of effective firefighting efforts cannot be overstated. On 19 March 2024, a sense of unity and purpose filled the air at the Kishugu Training Academy in Nelspruit as 105 new recruits graduated during a pass-out parade. These previously unemployed youth are ready to join the extensive Working on Fire-Kishugu Joint Venture resources on the front lines of wildland fire defence. This ceremony not only celebrated their achievements but also symbolised a crucial step forward in the global wildland fire response.

As we feel the impacts of climate change, wildland fires have become more frequent and intense, impacting communities and ecosystems worldwide. South Korea, like many other countries, faces the daunting challenge of combating these infernos. The presence of officials from the South Korean Embassy in South Africa at the ceremony stressed the shared urgency in addressing this global crisis and the importance of collaboration with likeminded entities.

The graduation ceremony served as a platform for engagement in collaboration, offering an opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences in WOF-Kishugu JV’s expertise in integrated wildland fire management. With South Korea expressing interest in learning from South Africa’s firefighting expertise, the event marked the beginning of a promising partnership aimed at enhancing international wildland fire response efforts.

The 105 graduates, hailing from provinces across South Africa, represent a diverse group of future wildland firefighters. Trained in a rigorous 24-day programme at the Kishugu Training Academy, they were equipped with specialised firefighting skills and a deep understanding of the importance of community engagement and environmental stewardship.

During his keynote, WOF-Kishugu JV Project Manager, Trevor Abrahams, shared: “Globally, wildfire services will be expected to reduce risks to communities, protect assets and critical infrastructure, and ensure the safety of firefighters. International cooperation in wildfire management will become more critical as countries and regions will have to collaborate more intensely. We are pleased to have the officials from the South Korean Embassy present here today to see our operations, but moreover to look at how we can cooperate and share knowledge and expertise between our two countries.”

While the contexts of wildland fires may differ between countries, the spirit of collaboration remains universal. By sharing best practices and lessons learned, South Africa and South Korea are forging bonds that transcend borders. Together, they stand united in the fight against wildland fires, drawing strength from their diversity and shared commitment to saving and protecting lives and the environment.

“I am wearing a uniform and you are wearing a uniform. Wearing a uniform means the same thing across the world. It means sacrifice. I wish you all good luck and glory in your future,” said Moonhyung Lee, Police Consul (South Korean Embassy).

As the WOF-Kishugu JV’s new climate change warriors embark on their journey as wildland firefighters, they carry with them the hopes of communities and the promise of a safer, more resilient future. Their graduation marks not only the beginning of their steps into the employment sector, but that of fire education and awareness, partnerships, innovation, and collective action in the face of one of the greatest challenges of our time.

The New Recruits Graduation Ceremony at the Kishugu Training Academy was more than just a milestone. It was a testament to the impact of our government’s Expanded Public Works Programme in restoring dignity to South Africa’s previously unemployed youth. As wildland fires threaten our world, this new batch of firefighting heroes is ready to tackle the infernos in South Africa and beyond selflessly.


Scroll to Top