How do you manage wildfires in a time of water scarcity?

Blog Post created by luciandeaton Employee on May 18, 2018

Far from an academic question, the Cape Town, South Africa, Fire Department and the 4 million residents it serves provide a great example of building operational and community resiliency for wildfire in a time of server drought and strict water restrictions. Learn more in the May/June edition of NFPA Journal®’s Wildfire column.


Back in March, NFPA visited with its wildfire community outreach partners in South Africa and landed in the middle of a water crisis. Years of drought have reduced the reservoirs that supply Cape Town with its drinking water and the city faced a “Day Zero” reality, when the taps would actually run dry.


In response, residents, businesses, and agriculture, all reduced their water consumption and reconsidered the value of something that we usually take for granted.  I did as well as a guest and have tried to reduce my unnecessary water use back at home in the USA.


While there, I had the great opportunity to talk with Ian Schnetler, Cape Town’s chief fire officer, about how municipal water restrictions and the looming threat of “Day Zero” changed how the department deals with wildfire and the culture of the fire department in it use of water.  Learn from his insight and actions in the current edition of NFPA Journal®’s Wildfire column.  

Picture Credit: Lucian Deaton