Working on Fire continues to make strides towards becoming a leading agency in integrated fire management following its successful expedition in Manitoba, Canada, recently.
Early in August, 109 firefighters and management from the department of forestry, fisheries and the environments’ Working on Fire were deployed to Manitoba to assist provincial firefighting authorities with wildland firefighting efforts.
Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy has praised the South Africans for their “professionalism and high-performance standards expressed by Canadian authorities”.
She said the vote of confidence was indicative of the success of the Working on Fire programme and its capabilities in integrated fire management over the past 18 years. “This was by far one of the most successful international deployments and indeed a huge vote of confidence in the South African government’s Expanded Public Works Programme, Working on Fire,” said Creecy.
“These young men and women represented our country with pride and dignity, their work ethic, professionalism and fitness levels were highly regarded in Canada.”
Antoinette Jini – agency representative from Working on Fire, who was responsible for leading the teams and maintaining the discipline and wellbeing and safety of the firefighters – said she felt valued and trusted by the programme for such a responsibility, which she will forever be grateful.
Her responsibilities on the mission included building a relationship between the incident management team (IMT) and the South African deployees.
“My continuous engagement with IMT was very critical. I joined the IMT meetings in the morning and evenings or at any other point in time as the need arises,” said Jini.
“I had to join hands in achieving the objectives of the incident command and make sure the assignments assigned to my teams are met accordingly.”
Jini said the experience she attained at home played a critical role in assisting their efforts to stop the wildland fires in Manitoba. “One of the values of the Working on Fire is adaptability and I think we did just that,” she said.