Fire Protection Associations FPA and the Law

Magaliesburg-Grass-Veld-FiresDear Magaliesburger’s

It seems many landowners are unaware of the laws regarding fires and the establishment of fire protection associations / FPA’s. Herewith below is the law from the National Veld and Forest Fire Act.

NATIONAL VELD AND FOREST FIRE ACT

CHAPTER 2

FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATIONS

Chapter 2 regulates the establishment, registration, duties and functioning of fire protection associations. These associations must deal with all aspects of veldfire prevention and fire fighting. The appointment and duties of a fire protection officer are also regulated in this Chapter.

Formation of fire protection associations

3. (1) Owners may form an association for the purpose of predicting, preventing, managing and extinguishing veldfires and apply for its registration as a fire protection association in terms of this Chapter.

(2) A fire protection association may be formed by owners who wish to co-operate for the purpose referred to in subsection (1) in respect of an area which has—

(a) regular veldfires; or

(b) a relatively uniform risk of veldfire; or

(c) relatively uniform climatic conditions; or

(d) relatively uniform types of forest or vegetation.

(3) If no fire protection association has been registered within one year after the Act comes into effect in an area where the Minister is of the opinion that a fire protection association should be formed, he or she must convene a meeting of owners in the area to—

(a) explain the provisions of this Chapter;

(b) see if there is support for the forming of a fire protection association; and

(c) identify what assistance the Department can provide in the formation, registration and management of a fire protection association, if there is such support.

(4) The Minister may give assistance to and co-operate with owners in forming a fire protection association.
[Section 3 came into effect on 1 August 2003]

Registration of fire protection associations

4. (1) An application for registration as a fire protection association must be made in the prescribed way.

(2) If the Minister is satisfied that—

(a) the applicant is capable of performing the duties imposed on a fire protection association in terms of this Act; and

(b) the applicant is representative of owners in the area, he or she must register such an association and issue a registration certificate.

(3) The Minister may recognise and register as a fire protection association—

(a) a fire control committee or regional fire control committee established under section 19 of the Forest Act, 1984 (Act No.122 of 1984);

(b) a conservation committee established under section 15 of the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, 1983 (Act No. 43 of 1983);

(c) a catchment management agency established under section 78 of the National Water Act, 1998 (Act No. 36 of 1998);

(d) any nature conservancy established in terms of any ordinance of any Province;

(e) a fire protection committee established under section 7 of the Mountain Catchment Areas Act, 1970 (Act No. 63 of 1970);

(f) a disaster management agency established in terms of any law passed for the management of disasters or for civil protection; and

(g) any voluntary association in existence at the time of the promulgation of the Act, which has as one of its objects the prevention and combating of veldfires, or
any committee of such an association, if its founding law or constitution complies with subsection (6).

(4) The Minister may require an applicant for registration to fulfil certain conditions either before or after registration, including the amendment of its constitution.

(5) Only one fire protection association may be registered in respect of an area.

(6) All owners in an area for which a fire protection association has been registered have a right to join the fire protection association, provided they undertake to abide by its constitution and rules.

(7) Where a fire protection association has been registered in an area—

(a) all or part of which is controlled by a municipality and that municipality has a service; or

(b) in which there is a designated service, the municipality or designated service must become a member of the fire protection association.

(8) The owner in respect of State land must join any fire protection association registered in the area in which the land lies.

(9) Nothing in this Act prevents the formation of an umbrella association for a number of fire protection associations, but a reference in this Act to a fire protection association is not a reference to such an umbrella association.

(10) An umbrella association may exercise powers under this Act or perform duties in terms of this Act on behalf of a fire protection association if the Minister agrees.
[Section 4 came into effect on 1 August 2003]

Duties of fire protection associations

5. (1) A fire protection association must at least—

(a) develop and apply a veldfire management strategy for its area;

(b) provide in the strategy for agreed mechanisms for the co-ordination of actions with adjoining fire protection associations;

[Paragraph (b) substituted by section 14 of the National Forest and Fire Laws Amendment Act, 2001.]

(c) make rules which bind its members;

(d) identify the ecological conditions that affect the fire danger;

(e) regularly communicate the fire danger rating referred to in sections 9 and 10 to its members;

(f) organise and train its members in fire fighting, management and prevention;

(g) inform its members of equipment and technology available for preventing and fighting veldfires;

(h) provide management services, training and support for communities in their efforts to manage and control veldfires;

(i) supply the Minister at least once every 12 months with statistics about veldfires in its area;

(j) furnish any information requested by the Minister in order to prepare or maintain the fire danger rating system;

(k) exercise the powers and perform the duties delegated to it by the Minister; and

(l) appoint a fire protection officer, unless there is a chief fire officer as contemplated in section 6(2)(a) who is willing to assume the powers and duties of a fire protection officer.

[Paragraph (l) substituted by section 14 of the National Forest and Fire Laws Amendment Act, 2001.]

(2) Where a municipality or a designated service is a member, the fire protection association must consult with it in the development and application of the strategy.

(3) The Minister may delegate a power or duty to a fire protection association if he or she has consulted with the fire protection officer beforehand.

(4) The rules contemplated in subsection (1)(c) must provide for—

(a) any matter which may or must be dealt with in terms of this Act;

(b) the minimum standards to be maintained by members in relation to all aspects of veldfire prevention and readiness for fire fighting;

(c) controlled burning to conserve ecosystems and reduce the fire danger; and

(d) any other matter which is necessary for the fire protection association to achieve its objects.

(5) A copy of the rules must be lodged with the Minister.

[Section 5 came into effect on 1 August 2003]

Fire protection officers

6. (1) The fire protection officer must—

(a) perform the function of chief executive officer of the fire protection association;

(b) carry out the tasks assigned to him or her by the fire protection association or its executive committee;

(c) take control of any fire fighting in the area for which the fire protection association has been formed, if—

(i) the veldfire is a threat to life or property; and

(ii) he or she is reasonably able to do so; (d) enforce the rules of the association;

(e) monitor and report to the association and the Minister on compliance with this Act;

(f) train the members—
(i) in the law regarding veldfire prevention, management and control;

(ii) on the rules of the fire protection association; and

(iii) to prevent and fight veldfires; and (g) inspect the members’ land to ensure that they are complying with their duties in terms of the Act and the rules of the fire protection association.

(2) Where—

(a) a municipality is a member and has a service, or where a designated service is a member, the chief fire officer is the fire protection officer unless he or she declines the position;

(b) a fire protection association has as members more than one entity having a chief fire officer willing to assume the powers and duties of the fire protection officer, the fire protection officer must be appointed from among those chief fire officers.

[Sub-section 2 substituted by section 15 of the National Forest and Fire Laws Amendment Act, 2001.]

(3) A fire protection officer has the right of entry onto the land of a member of the fire protection association on reasonable notice to carry out the duties contemplated in subsection (1)(g).

(4) The Director-General may designate an officer or employee of the Department to act as fire protection officer for a fire protection association if a fire protection association does not have the means to do so itself.

(5) (a) An appointment under subsection (4) must be for a fixed period.

(b) The period may only be extended if, in the opinion of the Director-General, there is good reason for doing so.

(6) (a) A fire protection officer must apply to the Director-General for registration as a fire protection officer in the prescribed way.

(b) The Director-General must register a fire protection officer if he or she is satisfied that the person will be able to enforce the Act in a responsible manner.

(7) The fire protection officer may delegate his or her powers and duties in terms of this Act, except the powers of arrest, search and seizure.
[Section 6 came into effect on 1 August 2003]

Financial and other assistance

7. The Minister may give a loan, grant or other assistance to—

(a) any fire protection association for any of its activities; and

(b) any owner who prepares a firebreak in terms of section 14 and in doing so incurs expenses in excess of what he or she would reasonably be expected to incur if the boundary of his or her land did not coincide with that of the Republic.

[Section 7 came into effect on 1 August 2003]

De-registration of fire protection associations
8. (1) If a fire protection association has, in the opinion of the Minister, become inoperative or ineffective, he or she may deregister it and withdraw its certificate.
(2) In that event the fire protection association immediately becomes liable to—

(a) repay any loan made to it by the Department; and

(b) return any assets lent to it by the Department.

[Section 8 came into effect on 1 August 2003]

Some other information regarding fires can be accessed here

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