An impressive 140 fire fighters in the nine Working on Fire teams in the western part of the Eastern Cape passed their annual Yellow Card Training (YCT). The test refreshed their skills and tests their physical and mental fitness.
The yellow card was officially launched on 22 September in Lottering, a few kilometres from the area of Tsitsikamma affected by a huge fire two years ago whem an estimated 2000ha were burnt.
The nine teams, Tsitsikamma, Witelsbos, Longmore, Sarah Baartman, Addo, Baviaanskloof, Lottering, Kromsriver and Jansenville, took part in the Yello Card programme on 22-26 September.
Teams were divided into two groups and each was assessed over a period of three days..
Ground Operations Manager of Working on Fire, Antoinette Jini, congratulated all the fire fighters who passed the training assessment. Training activities included a 10km route march, line construction, fire wall (passing through fire), Public Protection Classification inspections, tool inspection, physical training classes and a fitness test that included running 2.4km under 12 minutes for men and under 14 minutes for for women; 40 push-ups in one minute, 8 pull-ups in one minute and 40 sit-ups in one minute.
Fire fighters were then assessed on their knowledge of fire behaviours and watch-outs, fire-line safety principles, fire-line equipment and its use. Jini said the yellow card was intended to get fire fighters ready for the upcoming summer fire season starting in December.
Koukamma Mayor Samuel Vuso thanked the fire fighters for the hard work they do in saving property and protecting communities. He encouraged them to work hard and continue protecting the Tsitsikamma plantation which had an important role in the lives of many people.
The Eastern Cape has two fire seasons, in each in winter and summer. There are 540 fire fighters across the province with 160 in the western part and 380 in the eastern part.
The young men and women in the Working on Fire teams assist partners such as Eastern Cape Parks Tourism and Agency (ECPTA), Eastern Cape Umbrella FPA, Amathole Forestry Company (AFC) and local fire authorities in suppressing fires. Working on Fire is an expanded public works programme funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs. The programme started in September 2003 with about 25 teams (850 beneficiaries) nationally and has grown to 5 000 personnel in 200 bases.