'1+1=2', or does it? It certainly does in accountancy and banking, where numbers must be made to balance, but it’s a debatable issue if one of the elements in the equation involves human beings. Where humans compete for ownership or use of resources, or protection of their own interests, their competitive antagonism results in situations of '1+1=1', where there is a ‘winner’ and a ‘loser’. That’s not a useful or constructive result where communities are dependent on one another to fight the fires that threaten their lives and properties every year. Clearly there must be a better management approach and Rietlaagte fire prevention association has proved over a period of years that communal synergy is essential for the benefit and economic growth of Magaliesburg’s communities.

In Magaliesburg we have an economy based on agriculture and tourism. Rural properties worth millions are at the same level of risk from fire as worker accommodation worth mere thousands but containing a worker’s entire wealth and belongings. Workers are dependent on owners for protection of their families’ lives as well as their continued livelihoods. Wealth means nothing when fire threatens it, so owners are dependent on their workers and neighbours for protection of their assets against destructive fires. There is the potential here for a mutually beneficial synergy where '1+1 = much more than the mathematical sum of the whole'.

Rietlaagte FPA working with West Rand District Municipality, have promoted the concept of synergy between stakeholders so that '1+1=at least 3' and whole communities benefit from mutual support and cooperation. With support from Nedbank’s Proud of My Town programme funding through Ranyaka Community Transformation, Rietlaagte has done away with membership fees, which served as a financial barrier to membership. Old-style FPAs focussed on centralising equipment and organising groups to fight veld-fires. We have focussed on the concept of Association between community members of all social classes as the basis for fire prevention in all aspects of community concern. Equipment provided by the State or sponsors is distributed to central points for communal use by ‘Buddy teams’ of trained community members. Owners, workers and neighbouring community members have to participate cooperatively according to their means and skills to ensure that the fire prevention teams remain effective for their mutual advantage. Some might provide resources that they are unable to use personally, whereas others use those resources correctly to ensure that their families and communities benefit from the protection of lives and possessions. From an Economic Social Governance (ESG) point of view, we are helping the community to optimise use of its resources in a socially responsible and legally compliant manner.

We meet as an FPA, as required by law for very good reasons we discuss in another blog. We do so to meet new community members and share information about resource acquisitions, laws and fire prevention training opportunities. The training issue is quite complex as there are varying fire-prevention and fighting training needs in townships; tourism or hospitality institutions; business premises and on farms. The importance of working as a community for the benefit of all is always at the core of discussions. For 2024, the FPA will be encouraging local business and farm owners to utilise some of their CSI funding to acquire fire-fighting equipment and fulfil some of their obligation to train staff by promoting fire-related and first-aid training for their personnel.

There are many community members who cannot fight fires themselves but have no wish to stand helplessly by. A community member who is not empowered by appropriate training is a numerical (0) in fire prevention and may even be a danger or (-) quantity in the social equation. For this reason, we like to introduce family units to how they can prevent fires as well as roles they can play during fires in protecting children, the aged and infirm, pets and livestock without potentially encountering harm themselves. This has been made slightly easier by TV coverage of natural disasters, where community members provide refreshments to emergency workers and assist victims to find safety and refuge.

As communities move to other areas, they carry their skills and knowledge with them, which creates a constant demand for sustained and sustainable training.  This fact has been recognized by Gauteng Auxilliary Services, which has requested Rietlaagte with Nedbank "Proud of My Town" programme through Ranyaka Community Transformation,  to assist four other areas in Gauteng to implement this socially responsible community fire prevention training approach. We lead where we are and if given the same level of support from Nedbank Proud of My Town programme , Magaliesburg Business and Tourism Forum, Route 24, and many more, we will all be moving outwards and forwards to the benefit of other communities!

 With partners like Lucidum, we will be strengthening Governance, Risk, Ethics, Compliances, and Sustainability so that Rietlaagte is kept ready for government audit and compliant.


Remember your smile, handshake, cold Beer, and Colddrink from today, has more value in a disaster than money or wealth when your neighbor decides whether or not they are going to get out of their warm beds and come help you in your time of need tomorrow!

And as said at every meeting and training if your house, farm, or business is burning don't phone Ryan! PUT IT ON THE GROUP!