The Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) has been combating dangerous and sometimes deadly runaway wildfires since its baptism during the devastating 1999/2000 fires in Cape Town. With over 200 volunteer members at four stations (Newlands, Jonkershoek, South Peninsula and the newly developing Grabouw Station), VWS is a highly-organised Non-Profit Organisation, run and managed by a team of volunteers as well as a recently employed General Manager.
The VWS has assisted the Table Mountain National Park, CapeNature, Overberg District Municipality and Winelands District Municipality with some of the wildest fires Cape Town and the Western Cape have experienced.
The VWS works closely with other emergency service organisations in wildland fire management such as Table Mountain National Park, CapeNature, City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service, Disaster Management, Winelands Fire Brigade, Stellenbosch Fire Brigade, Overberg District Municipality and Working on Fire. This has meant that to date VWS has achieved over 56,000 active firefighting hours between its members and stations.
The Integrated Wildfire Management Services provided by the VWS include:
• Wildfire suppression services
• Wildfire suppression and management training
• Education and awareness
• Monitoring and active fire suppression during prescribed ecological burns
• With the ongoing support of the community, VWS will continue its goal of saving and protecting South Africa’s natural heritage, property, lives and precious mountain water catchment areas.
As a section 21 not for profit company, the VWS is run by a Board of Directors that deals with the governance and strategic direction of the organisation. All four stations have a dedicated Station Management Team that deals with operational matters and ensures that the members are well trained, equipped and ready to respond to a call-out at a moment’s notice throughout the year.
All Board and Station Management Teams are made up of unpaid volunteers from within our membership. These roles are supported by a newly appointed General Manager. All funding received by the VWS is used to ensure that the organisation can remain operational and is used to procure equipment, personal protective equipment, fuel and maintain a fleet of vehicles and – through careful investment – ensure the long-term viability of the VWS.