The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry has approved the Lowveld Fire Danger Rating System as the official system for use in South Africa, in a major boost for fire management across the country.
The National Fire Danger Rating System measures the threat of fire and represents the fire danger in the form of indices, with colours associated with each level of danger.
The Lowveld system was widely used in South Africa, before being officially approved.
The benefits are that the system can now be legally enforced, said Deputy Director of Veldfire Oversight in the department, Luke Radebe.
Now that is has been approved, the system is called the South African National Fire Danger Rating System. It was adopted after researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) found it was better suited to South African conditions than the American system previously approved, Radebe said.
A blue colour indicates a low danger of fire, green a moderate danger, yellow dangerous conditions, orange very dangerous and red extremely dangerous conditions. Each index also comes with a description of the difficulty of suppressing fires, and whether fires of any kind, including prescribed burns, are allowed (which is the case only for the blue and green indices).
The fire danger indices (FDIs) are worked out according to a formula, taking into account the temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and rainfall.
Radebe said that extensive consultation with parties including FPAs, researchers, the weather service, national disaster management and the forestry association, had shown satisfaction with the model before it was approved.
Notice of the system’s official adoption was published in the Government Gazette of November 13, 2013.