Veld Fire Preparedness

Adrian Baillie-Stewart
Adrian Baillie-Stewart

On a part-time basis, Adrian serves as lead digital communications consultant for the Firth Group of farms. This includes Hillcrest Game Estates, Firth Red Brangus, Firth Wagyu, Maquassi Spruit Pecan Nuts and Highlands Cycads. A communications specialist at Content Strategics (Pty) Ltd., Adrian helps small to medium enterprises achieve their primary operational goals by maximising the commercial impact of their media content published across multiple online digital platforms.

Winter has arrived in the Wolmaransstad region. Not only does this mean freezing temperatures, but also extremely dry veld [vegetation]—this poses a significant risk of the break out of devastating veld fires. Last season alone, owing to veld fires, more than 500 hectares of valuable pasture was lost on our farms. Such devastation can have a major impact on the success and profitability of a farming business enterprise. Therefore, on our farms, we make sure that preventative measures are always in place to prevent possible veld fires—or at least—to lessen the damage if a veld fires does break out.
In the beginning of the dry season, the roads on the boundaries of all the farms are graded in order to get rid of dry vegetation that fuels fires. This helps to prevent fires from neighboring properties crossing over onto our property. In some areas on the farms, “voorbrand” [burning fire-breaks] is done in advance: a process whereby sections of dry veld are deliberately set on fire in order to eliminate the dry vegetation that fuels these fires.
We have a number of strategically located fire engines scattered throughout the farm—these serve as backup, always on the ready, firefighting resources. Our fire engines are serviced and checked on a regular basis—readiness remains paramount when trying to plan ahead for the dry veld fire season.

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