It takes more than willing bodies to combat veld fires. It actually takes suitable training in techniques PLUS a mental orientation towards leadership in the face of danger. That is why leading where you are was the theme of today’s fire training in Magaliesburg area.

The group of trainees was a mixture of affluent and less affluent community members whose families’ lives, property and livelihoods are in danger every fire season. Their best defence is to work as a communal collective that communicates and facilitates the role that each team player has adopted as their own. 

The basis for that cooperation is a shared understanding of a number of relevant issues raised on the day. These included:

·   o   Fire Prevention Associations (FPA’s)

o   what the national Fire Act intends FPA’s to do

o   how their FPA benefits the community

o   how FPA’s work and

o   how to join their FPA

Personal fire-fighting equipment

Hand-held fire equipment

Fire science and technology

Precautions for working with vehicles at fires

Fire pumps

o   Low pressure

o   Medium pressure

o   High pressure

·        o   Practical application of knowledge by creating and dealing with a fire burn.


It was a novel thought to many that all of the individuals in a team have roles to play in leadership before and after a fire. The leadership that sprang to most minds was the right of every land owner who is an FPA member to nominate and elect their own preference of FPA committee members. A somewhat new concept for most was that each member of a team is a leader when they adopt and fulfil a role in a team. This concept relies on the premise that a team is a community that works as a unit to achieve a shared goal. To achieve that goal, the team leader has to sacrifice ego and listen, understand, lead and act within the confines of the authority of the local FPA. It is the team leader’s role and responsibility to communicate with the FPA chairperson, gain authorisation for appropriate action and ensure that roles are allocated to suitable, correctly equipped, trained team members. By accepting their roles members are also accepting the responsibility for performing their functions well and in the interest of the communal unit. 

Working in a community fire team offers the opportunity for combining and sharing resources, which includes physical strength and stamina as well as equipment. An effective team leader understands that the human capital of firefighting is as vital as the correct use of suitable, well-maintained equipment. The team leader’s effectiveness is dependent on the whole team’s understanding of the relationship and interaction between FPA members and the community teams. The keyword/concepts here are

The community fire unit may only take charge of a fire situation and enrol help from FPA structures and resources if FPA members have been active in the structure and are well informed. At a minimum they should attend FPA meetings and provide their informed input on community fire issues. Even FPA members have to apply for fire burn permits to created firebreaks. They should never act without first providing a request and authority to burn, so that other community members can be informed of a potential risk to their properties.

The Gauteng Department of Agriculture was represented at the meeting, and told everyone what is required by the Fire Act. The DoA’s role in the community is to help developing famers to get fire-fighting equipment and participate in the FPA. This role is intended as a measure for mitigating the risk of fire and danger on farms. The official who spoke to the trainees reinforced the concept of community collaboration. He motivated farmers to become FPA members and to be responsible farmers wo understood that climate change presents hazards to their lives and livelihoods.


Firefighters are guaranteed to get sore muscles and dust on their boot. In return, they receive the appreciation of the community for taking the lead where they are instead of standing back and waiting for others to lead the way to safety.