Fire Safety

Fire Saftey:
Ten golden rules to adhere to...


1. Make effective fire breaks on your property borders.
This protects your property and prevents a fire spreading to neighboring properties.

2. Warn neighbours if you plan to burn fire-breaks.
Use a written notice to inform neighbours of your intentions.

3. Plan your fire-breaks programme with your neighbours.
Get your neighbour’s approval of your plan of action. Should neighbours find it impossible to come an agreement, provision is made that the local magistrate may act as arbiter. His ruling will then be binding by both landowners.

4. Insist on your neighbours presence when fire-breaks on boundary belts are being made.
This will ensure that all parties take responsibility for any eventualities. Should a fire occur on a property, and it is suspect of posing a threat to man, animal or property, any person may enter property and apply necessary reasonable measures to prevent the fire from spreading, or to extinguish the fire. These measures may even include setting fire to crops, fire-breaks etc.

5. Ensure that weather conditions are acceptable for burning firebreaks.
You could consider burning fires at night when weather conditions are usually favorable for burning. Check the Fire Danger Rating and regulations for your region.

6. Burn fire-breaks early.
Burning restrictions are enforced in certain regions – ensure that you’re aware of these.

7. Don’t light fires in the open air if you cannot control it.
Ensure that you have enough help and equipment to cope with all eventualities. Lighting a fire within a road reserve, except in fireplace built for that purpose, is also prohibited in terms of the National Veld and Forest Fire Act No 101 of 1998.

8. You are responsible for doing all you can to prevent a fire from spreading to neighboring properties.
If a fire spread it can cause extensive damage and the landowner from where the originates, can be held liable for damages.

9. Don’t leave a fire unguarded / unattended before it is properly extinguished.
Unexpected winds can reflame cinders.

10. According to the National Veld and Forest Fire Act No 101 of 1998, carelessness with fires is considered a criminal offence.


The acronym “LACES” was developed with the goal to provide a simple way to help firefighters remember some key elements to survival.
LACES stands for “Lookouts”, “Awareness”, “Communications”, “Escape Routes” and “Safety Zones”.

L = Lookout
The Lookout is the eyes of the firefighter, especially of the Crew Boss, Fire Controller or Section Fire Boss. Lookouts should be in a position from where they can see the fireline, the fire staff and the crews working the fire. The lookout should be able to recognise and anticipate situations and must report changes immediately.

A = Awareness
All firefighters, including the lookouts, should be aware of the action plan. Every one involved should also be aware of the fire weather, fire behaviour, the activities around them, the terrain, etc.

C = Communications
The fire officer, crew leaders and lookouts should at all times be able to communicate. This may be by direct radio contact, or through a lookout or other relay point. Ensure good communications at all times.

E = Escape Routes
Have at least two planned routes of escape. If your primary route is cut off, know what you are going to do. Every person on the fire line must know the plan.

S = Safety Zones
Safety zones are places (known to every person on the fire line) of refuge, places you can be assured of your safety. Their size is dictated by the fuel, terrain, weather conditions and worst-case fire behaviour.


10 Standard Fire Orders

  1. Fight fire aggressively, but provide for safety first.
  2. Initiate all actions based on current and expected fire behavior.
  3. Recognize current weather conditions and obtain forecast.
  4. Ensure instructions are given clearly and understood.
  5. Obtain current information on fire status.
  6. Remain in communication with crew members, your supervisor, and adjoining teams.
  7. Determine safety zones and escape routes (and make it known).
  8. Establish lookouts in potentially hazardous situations.
  9. Remain in control at all times.
  10. Stay alert, keep calm, think clearly and act decisively.


18 Watch-out-Situations

  1. Fire not scouted and sized up
  2. In country not seen in daylight
  3. Safety zones and escape routes not identified
  4. Unfamiliar with weather and local factors influencing fire behaviour
  5. Uniformed on strategy , tactics and hazards
  6. Instructions and assignments not clear
  7. No communication link with crew members/supervisor
  8. Constructing fireline without safe anchor point
  9. Building fireline downhill with fire below
  10. Attempting frontal assault on fire
  11. Unburned fuel between you and the fire
  12. Cannot see main fire, not in contact with anyone who can
  13. On a hillside where rolling material can ignite fuel below
  14. Weather is getting hotter and drier
  15. Wind increases and/or changes direction
  16. Getting frequent spot fires across line
  17. Terrain and fuels make escape to safety zones difficult
  18. Taking a nap near the fireline