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Western Cape Human Settlements develops fire safety plan for informal settlements


27 September 2020

As part of its Informal Settlement Support Programme (ISSP), the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements in collaboration with the University of Stellenbosch’s Fire Engineering Research Unit (FireSUN), developed a response plan to improve fire safety in informal settlements.

This detailed report and guideline on fire safety engineering for informal settlements, which is part of phase 1 of the plan contains extensive information, analysis, case studies and discussions on fire safety interventions in informal settlements. A chapter on fire safety interventions for backyarders has also been included.

Provincial Minister of Human Settlements, Tertuis Simmers said: “I welcome this initiative, as it demonstrates our commitment to not only improving fire safety, but also the health and dignity of people living in informal settlements. Fire safety in informal settlements is a huge concern to the entire Western Cape Government as on an annual average 1260 fires occur, destroying 4000 structures, displacing close to 13000 people, while more than 100 people are fatally wounded. It is also pleasing to note that our backyarders have not been excluded from this process.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the University of Stellenbosch for their assistance in developing this document. We will continue to work with all relevant stakeholders, which includes all sister departments, the private sector, communities as well as academia to improve the quality of life in informal settlements.”

In phase two of the plan which will follow in due course, the document will be used to produce pictoral, visual and graphic illustrations. This will communicate simplified messages in a visual way illustrating various safety interventions and options available that could save lives and property, while also helping to further strengthen fire safety in informal settlements.