NATIONAL VELD AND FOREST FIRE ACT
VELDFIRE PREVENTION THROUGH FIREBREAKS
Chapter 4 places a duty on owners to prepare and maintain firebreaks. The procedure in this regard and the role of adjoining owners and the fire protection association are dealt with. Provision is also made for the making of firebreaks on the international boundary of the Republic. The Minister is given the power to exempt any owner from making a firebreak for good reason.
Duty to prepare and maintain firebreaks
12. (1) Every owner on whose land a veldfire may start or burn or from whose land it may spread must prepare and maintain a firebreak on his or her side of the boundary between his or her land and any adjoining land.
(2) (a) If an owner referred to in subsection (1) intends to prepare and maintain a firebreak by burning, he or she must determine a mutually agreeable date or dates with the owners of adjoining land for doing so, and inform the fire protection association for the area, if any.
(b) If agreement cannot be reached, such owner must give to the owners of adjoining land and the fire protection association for the area, if any, at least 14 days written notice of the day or days during which he or she intends burning firebreaks, fire danger permitting.
(3) An owner of adjoining land who has agreed on a day in terms of subsection (2)(a) or who receives a notice in terms of subsection (2)(b) must—
(a) burn his or her firebreak on the boundary concerned on the same day or days; or
(4) An owner may not burn a firebreak, despite having complied with subsection (2), if—
(b) be present at such burning or have his or her agent attend; and
(c) ensure that a sufficient number of persons are present on his or her side of the boundary to prevent any spread of fire when the firebreak is burned.
(a) the fire protection association objects to the proposed burning; or
(5) The owner must inform the owners of adjoining land and the fire protection association, if any—
(b) a warning has been published in terms of subsection 10(1)(b) because the fire danger is high in the region; or
(c) the conditions are not conducive to the burning of firebreaks.
(a) if burning cannot be done on the agreed day or days referred to in subsection (2)(a) or any of the days referred to in subsection (2)(b); and
(6) It is not necessary for the owner to give 14 days notice of the additional days.
(b) of the additional days on which he or she intends to burn because of the failure to do so on the day or days set in terms of subsection (2)(a) or (b).
(7) Owners of adjoining land may agree to position a common firebreak away from the boundary.
(8) Should an owner intend to be absent for a period longer than 14 days during the period or part of any period in which burning normally takes place, he or she must give all owners of adjoining land an address and telephone number, if any, at which he or she may be contacted.
(9) If an owner of adjoining land—
(a) is not present on the agreed or notified day or days; or
(10) A fire protection association may make rules different from subsections (2) to (6) if the new rules are approved by the Minister, in which event members are bound by the new rules and exempt from subsections (2) to (6).
(b) has not given an address and telephone number, if any, as required in subsection (8), the owner may proceed with the burning in his or her absence.
[Section 12 came into effect on 2 July 1999]
Requirements for firebreaks
13. An owner who is obliged to prepare and maintain a firebreak must ensure that, with due regard to the weather, climate, terrain and vegetation of the area—
(a) it is wide enough and long enough to have a reasonable chance of preventing a veldfire from spreading to or from neighbouring land;
[Section 13 came into effect on 2 July 1999]
(b) it does not cause soil erosion; and
(c) it is reasonably free of inflammable material capable of carrying a veldfire across it.
Firebreaks on borders of Republic
14. An owner—
(a) whose land is subject to a risk of veldfire; and
Exemption from duty to prepare and maintain firebreaks
(b) whose land or any part of it coincides with the border of the Republic, must prepare and maintain a firebreak on his or her land as close as possible to that border.
15. (1) The Minister may exempt any owner or group of owners from the duty to prepare and maintain a firebreak or firebreaks for good reason.
(2) The exemption may be subject to conditions.
(3) The Minister must consult the fire protection association for the area, if any, before granting any exemption.
Exemption from prohibitions on damaging plants
16. The right or duty to prepare and maintain a firebreak in terms of this Chapter prevails over any prohibition in any other law on the cutting, disturbance, damage, destruction or removal of any plant or tree, except that the owner must—
(a) where possible, transplant any plant which is protected in terms of any law; or
(b) where it is safe and feasible, position the firebreak so as to avoid such plant or tree.