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Informal Settlement Fires 2018

The latest fire statistic data provided by the SA municipalities and analysed by the FPASA reveals the following:

  • For the 2016/2017 municipal reporting period, there were 5283 informal dwelling fires recorded by municipalities and reported to the FPASA.
  • The value of this loss equates to R179 513 324 – reported by the municipalities across SA.
  • From the period 2007 to present– the financial losses incurred in informal dwellings has been increasing year-on-year consistently, with the current reporting period reflecting the highest financial losses to date.

Factors that contribute to fires in informal dwellings (root causes):

 Smoking                     = 190

Electrical                     = 559

Open Flames             = 1027

Cooking                      = 349

Heating                       = 197

Welding                      = 13

Lightning                    = 35

Arson                          = 291

Unrest                         = 1

Undetermined           = 2083

Other                          = 538

Total                           = 5283


From this data (exempting “undetermined” and “other”) the largest contributor to informal dwelling fires is Open Flames.

There is a substantial amount of combustible material in informal settlements – as a consequence, the ignition source, and the materials of combustion provide an ideal combination for a fire to flourish. Due to the proximity of the informal dwellings to one another, the ease of spread of fire is quite rapid from one shack to another.

The limited space between such dwellings and/ or the poor condition of road infrastructure presents a major setback for firefighters reaching the fire in time to extinguish it.

Further, there are seldom (if any) detection and extinguishing devices (fire extinguishers) in such informal dwellings to enable the destitute to detect the fire early enough so that they may attempt extinguishment in the very very early stages.


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