1. DIRECTORATE: Fire Services

The Directorate: Fire Services (Dir: FS) is responsible for the administration of the Fire Brigade Services Act, 1987 (Act No. 99 of 1987) (FBSA) which is one of the key mandates of the Department of Cooperative Governance. The FBSA provides for the establishment, maintenance, employment, coordination and standardisation of fire brigade services in the country. The Dir: FS comprises a senior manager and a manager and is responsible for among other things:

  1. National coordination of fire service activities;
  2. Establishment of national fire services institutional structures;
  3. Provision of targeted support to provincial fire services structures;
  4. Development of Regulations in terms of the FBSA;
  5. Development and review of regulatory frameworks for the fire services;
  6. Provision of secretariat support to the Fire Brigade Board;
  7. Serving as primary point of contact to the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Secretariat (Operational Focal Point);
  8. Development and support implementation of national fire safety and prevention strategies/ frameworks;
  9. Establishment of partnerships with key role players.


In 2015/16, the Dir: FS executed this mandate by,

Enhancing the Fire Services Regulatory Frameworks

The Dir: FS prepared the following policy documents/ instruments.

  1. The Draft White Paper on Fire Services was approved by the Minister. A Socio – Economic Impact Assessment System has to be undertaken prior to submission to the relevant Cabinet structures for further processing.
  2. The first draft of the Fire Services Bill was prepared after consultation with key fire services stakeholders at all spheres of government, private sector and civil society organisations. The finalisation of the draft Fire Services Bill is dependent upon the Cabinet approval of the White Paper on Fire Services.
  3. Regulations on the Safe Transportation of Dangerous Goods by Road in Terms of Section 15 (1) (e) of the FBSA was published for public comment. The Dir: FS convened a workshop of the National Dangerous Goods Working Group to consider comments received from the public following publication of the Regulations in the government gazette. The National Dangerous Goods Working Group extensively considered all the comments and inputs from the public and key role players and resolved that the Dir: FS must encourage all municipalities across the country to adopt the South African National Standard 1157 as a standard code of practice to minimize compliance difficulties and challenges experienced due to different fire permits. In view of this, the Dir: FS has been encouraging municipalities to adopt SANS 1157 as a standard code of practice during the Financial Year 2015/16.                                 

Professionalisation of the fire services

The Dir: FS established a Fire Services Career Path Working Group with a view to discuss and prepare a draft Career Path for the Fire Services. The Fire Services Career Path Working Group prepared a draft Career Path for the Fire Services which was presented to key stakeholders for inputs. The Fire Services Career Path Working Group also discussed the key aspects that will be covered by the national framework or standard (based on research, national and international good practice) for recruitment and maintenance of physical fitness of firefighters.

Implementation of the National Fire Safety and Prevention Strategy

  1. National Fire Safety and Prevention Working Group

The National Fire Safety and Prevention Working Group, the members of which is set out in Figure 9, was created to provide a platform for coordinating fire safety and prevention programs across the country. The Dir: FS convened two meetings of the Working Group to discuss the implementation of the national strategy. The Working Group also played a key role in the preparation of the 3rd National Annual Fire Safety and Prevention Summit which was held during March 2016.


Name Designation Province / organisation
1. Moses Khangale SM, Fire Services NDMC
2. Lloyd PhetlhuM: Fire Services NDMC
3. Mogoboya Lebia Chief Fire Officer, Capricorn District Municipality Limpopo
4. Lizzy MorakeFS PDMC Free State
5. Jones Mokoena Manager: Fire & Disaster Management, Thabo Mofutsanyane District Municipality Free State
6. Rodney Eksteen Assistant Director: Fire Brigade Services, Western Cape Provincial Government Western Cape
7. Daniel Johnstone Chief Fire Officer,
Msukaligwa Local Municipality
8. Mandla MasinaDeputy Director Fire & Rescue ServicesGauteng
9. Petrus Brits Senior District Manager: Codes (Fire Safety)Gauteng
10. Anthony Bruno Anthony Bruno – Deputy Chief Fire Officer Midvaal Fire Safety Division, Chairperson Provincial Fire Safety Technical Task teamGauteng
11. M.D Mutloane Deputy Director : Fire Brigade Services North West
12. Nicholas Julius  Eastern Cape
13. Eldridge BaatjiesChief Fire Officer, Chris Hani District Municipality Eastern Cape
14. Xolane BloseChief Fire OfficerUmlalazi Local Municipality
15. Hendrik De Wee Head of PDMC, Northern CapeNorthern Cape
16. Riaan Janse van VuurenManager Emergency Services Sol Plaatje Emergency ServicesNorthern Cape
17 Petrus BritsSenior District Manager :Codes( Fire Safety)City of Ekurhuleni
18 Tanja Terblanche Deputy Chief: Fire Safety Division  City of Tshwane


Figure 9: National Fire Safety and Prevention Strategy Working Group


  1. National Fire Safety and Prevention Summit

    The Dir: FS organised and hosted the 3rd national fire safety summit with a view to provide a platform for sharing good practices amongst fire safety and prevention practitioners. The seminar was held at the Department of Public Works, Conference Centre, Durban, KwaZulu Natal province during March 2016. The Summit was attended by more than 150 fire safety and prevention practitioners from both municipal and private sector fire services (see Figure 10). As part of build-up events towards the summit, the Dir: FS organised a one-day course entitled "Introduction to fire safety legislation, codes and policies in South Africa".  The course was sponsored by the Fire Protection Association of Southern Africa and was offered to 45 Fire Fighters from KwaZulu Natal at no cost to neither the Dir: FS nor the KwaZulu Natal Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC). The Fire Safety and Prevention Seminar was sponsored by Santam and Fire Protection Association of Southern Africa with promotional materials. 


  1. ​Support to provinces on the implementation of the strategy

    The Dir: FS supported provinces in the establishment of institutional arrangements for the implementation of the National Fire Safety and Prevention Strategy. This support has resulted in the successful establishment of a Provincial Fire Safety Working Group for the North West and Eastern Cape provinces respectively. The Dir: FS also conducted Hazmat capacity assessments of municipalities across the country with a view to identify key gaps requiring urgent interventions. The Dir: FS also provided support to the Northern Cape PDMC regarding the preparations for the Bloodhound event which is set to take place during 2016.


  1. Safe Paraffin Appliance Consumer Awareness Campaign

    The Dir: FS entered into a partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry, National Regulator of Compulsory Specifications and the National Consumer Commission on an initiative to reduce fire risks by replacing unsafe and illegal paraffin stoves with safe and compliant ones. The fact that most informal settlement houses or shacks are built by highly combustible materials (frequently wood and plastic) and in close proximity to each other, heighten the risk of fires in these areas. The lack of electricity in most informal settlements means that communities have to utilise other sources of energy such as dangerous paraffin stoves for cooking and heating and candles for lighting. Statistics from the Household Energy Safety Association of South Africa indicates that about 2.1 million households in South Africa are non-electrified and use other domestic energy sources.


    With regard to paraffin related fires, Household Energy Safety Association of South Africa points out that more than 200 000 people per year are injured or lose their properties due to paraffin induced fires. Experience and research have demonstrated that most paraffin fires are caused by paraffin stoves that do not comply with South African Standards and Specifications as required. It is against this background that the Dir: FS is working closely with the Department of Trade and Industry, National Regulator of Compulsory Specifications and the National Consumer Commission in this initiative to reduce the risk of fires caused by these illegal and unsafe paraffin stoves. This campaign gives effect to the realization of the mandates and roles of both the National Consumer Commission and the National Regulator for Compulsory Standards. The National Consumer Commission, empowered by the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008, is tasked with ensuring consumer protection in the country, while the National Regulator for Compulsory Standards, as mandated by the National Regulator for Compulsory Standards Act 8 of 2008, oversees the Regulation and approval of consumer products to ensure that they meet certain compulsory standards and specifications.


    As part of this initiative, a launch was held on 08 December 2015 in Vusumuzi, Tembisa and was attended by both the Ministers of Trade and Industry as well as Economic Development. The Head of the NDMC attended the event and presented a speech on behalf of the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Through this initiative, 600 Community Emergency Response Team members of the Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services as well as 50 volunteers from the Tshwarisanang Environmental Pro – Re- Active Safety Mentors (TETRASM) were trained on how to identify unsafe stoves from the community.

While approximately 2500 unsafe stoves were removed from the area, 2400 safe and compliant paraffin stoves were given to identified beneficiaries in this community. All the unsafe stoves collected were destroyed to minimise re-circulation of the illegal and non-compliant stoves within the community.

Flowing from the safer stoves campaign, the Dir: FS wrote an article on "Informal Settlement Fires" which was published on the Fire and Rescue International Magazine. The article was published during the month of February 2016.

Establishment of USAR institutional arrangements and assessment of existing capacity

  1. Establishment of USAR Institutional arrangements

The Dir: FS serves as South Africas primary point of contact to the INSARAG Secretariat i.e. Operational Focal Point on all Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) activities. The Dir: FS hosted several meetings with their provincial counterparts where USAR issues were discussed. A bilateral meeting was also held during May 2015 with the South African Police Services unit responsible for Disaster and Emergency Management to discuss cooperation on USAR and other related matters. In this regard the Dir: FS is also expected to represent the country, primarily on operational USAR matters in INSARAG meetings, workshops and events. The Dir: FS participated in the INSARAG Regional and Global USAR meeting, hosted in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 16 to 20 October 2015 and the INSARAG Steering Group (ISG) meeting during February 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The INSARAG Global USAR meeting adopted the 'Abu Dhabi Declaration' that will provide a platform for INSARAG's involvement in the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit. The Global USAR meeting reaffirmed its full support for disaster-affected countries in executing their sovereign role to initiate, coordinate and organise international humanitarian assistance on their territories within the framework of the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality, and to facilitate the access and operations of international USAR teams as long as requested. Furthermore, The Abu Dhabi Declaration endorsed the revised and updated INSARAG Guidelines 2015 as a set of detailed documents that use the lessons learned since INSARAG's inception and comprehensively detail the preparedness and response methodologies of INSARAG, and encourages Member States to adopt the Guidelines in their disaster response plans. The Directorate has also reproduced (with INSARAG permission) the 2015 INSARAG Guidelines with a view to promote the methodology across the country. These Guidelines will be disseminated to all key USAR stakeholders across the country.

The ISG meeting (February 2016) appreciated the valuable contributions from Member States and donors in printing and translating the INSARAG Guidelines and strongly encouraged other member countries to translate the guidelines into their respective languages for wider outreach and adoption, in accordance with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/150. Furthermore, the ISG agreed to align and enhance the current INSARAG Strategy 2014-17, and incorporate additional points from the outcomes from the Abu Dhabi Declaration into the INSARAG Strategy 2017 – 2020 which will be discussed at the upcoming Regional Meetings and the Team Leaders Meeting in 2016, and presented for decision at the ISG 2017, with the goal of transforming INSARAG to be "Fit for the Future". Taking the discussions at these meetings and the status quo of USAR activity in South Africa into account the following key lessons set out below may be transferable to South Africa:

  1. The importance of fostering partnerships between the NDMC, the INSARAG secretariat and other institutions involved in USAR is vital to ensure the development of the function not only in South Africa but in Africa;
  2. The implementation of the National USAR Framework is an important first milestone to ensure the development of local USAR capacity. However, the implementation strategies should be tailor-made to enhance capacity to deal with local USAR related risks before an attempt is made to establish sustained foreign response capabilities. The implementation of the National USAR Framework must be a priority for the Department and adequate resources (human and financial) must be provided/ allocated to the NDMC to successfully implement this framework.
  3. The NDMC must continue to build USAR capacity across the country. In order to fast-track this process, it is important to identify and engage key partners (national and international) who can support the USAR capacity building initiatives.


  1. USAR Capacity assessments

    The Dir: FS developed an USAR capacity assessment tool which was utilised to assess existing USAR capacity across the country. In this regard, the Directorate visited several provinces to provide support in the process of assessing this capacity and also supported the provinces to establish USAR institutional arrangements. The Dir: FS obtained useful data from all provinces regarding the distribution of capacity and resources to manage USAR incidents. This assessment has revealed areas that require intervention to improve existing capacity and ensure an improved state of readiness to respond to USAR incidents. Preliminary engagements were held with the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA) regarding the possible funding of initiatives to close identified gaps.


  1. Support to the Gauteng request for an INSARAG External Classification

    The Dir: FS (in its capacity as the INSARAG Operational Focal Point) supported the request by the Gauteng PDMC for an INSARAG External Classification (IEC) in line with the INSARAG Guidelines. The NDMC met with the Gauteng PDMC and the leadership of the provincial USAR team on several occasions to discuss this matter. This culminated in the Directorate requesting the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to support the process and provide the necessary approvals to formally kick-start the process of application. The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs supported the process and the Directorate interacted with the INSARAG Secretariat to set the process in motion. The Dir: FS will continue to support the Gauteng PDMC in this process and the INSARAG Secretariat has confirmed that the Gauteng USAR team will undergo an IEC during 2017.

Partnerships with key role players

The Dir: FS signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the South African Petro-Chemical Fire Chiefs Committee during July 2016. The MoU enables and creates a framework for cooperation between the NDMC and the petro chemical fire services sector on fire services issues. The Dir: FS will also utilise this partnership to build capacity to handle hazardous materials incidents across identified municipalities in line with the findings of the assessment referred to above.

Comparative Study Tour by a delegation from Namibia

The Dir: FS organised a comparative study tour on behalf of the NDMC following a formal request to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs by the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development of Namibia. The purpose of the comparative study tour was to afford the Namibian delegation an opportunity to learn about emergency and disaster management issues in South Africa. The comparative study tour was precipitated by the fact that Namibia is in the process of developing its emergency management policy that is meant to provide guidelines for effective and timely response to emergencies within the local authorities. This policy seeks to further provide a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders as well as the introduction of appropriate interventions to save lives, property and the environment.

The comparative study tour took place from 19-22 May 2015 with the assistance and support of key sector departments who are involved in emergency and disaster management issues within the South African environment. The selection of sector departments was also informed by the areas of interest identified by Namibia for the comparative study tour which included amongst other things, the structural arrangement of the sector within the department, the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders within the sector, policy and legislative frameworks, and funding model.  While the engagements with key sector departments focused primarily on policy and regulatory activities, several municipalities were identified to share the operational strategies they have to manage emergencies and disasters. At the end of the comparative study tour, representatives of both countries (South Africa and Namibia) agreed that institutional mechanisms such as a MoU must be considered to enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries on disaster and emergency management issues.