"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Fire trap

This last March we had hectic wild fires in our area.  We have had them before - in our little valley - those damn Black Wattles burn like hell!!
A tiny puff of smoke was the first sign,,,
But this time it was started with a lightning strike on our drought parched mountainside - 20kms away over the mountain to the north of us - the mountain that we face.

Our first inkling was a little puff of smoke - as in the pic above.  The fire had come over the mountain.
The wind changed direct and the smoke increased
Soon, our entire mountain was engulfed...
Dusk - and the fire is creeping down the mountainside
We are roughly 7 - 8 kms as the crow flies from those mountains - not terribly far when a wild fire is burning.
This pic was sent to me by a resident in Suurbraak
Dusk - and the flames become more apparent
Seeing a fire during the day is one thing, but watching it at night one's depth of vision is impaired - leading to many, many sleepless nights.  Has it jumped to the farmlands?  How close is it now?  Which way is the wind blowing - our way...?

Lots of things go through your mind at night.  And very few of them positive.
Smoke so thick it almost blocked out the sun
Thankfully the wind kept the worst of the fire from endangering us.  It took 5 days for that fire to completely burn out / get sorted by the local farmers / firemen.
A second fire a few weeks later - this time it was on our
side - on the farmlands
But, the lesson was there.

If - if - we should be in danger of a fire sweeping through our area, we do not have sufficient water for our (small) fire brigade to make any significant difference.   Plus, it would take them +/- 45 minutes just to get here.  Historically, they pitch up with a small +/- 1 000lt trailer load of water, and then break Black Wattle branches from the trees and everyone climbs in helping to beat the fire with the branches.  That is not terribly effective.  The fire department cannot bring their big fire engine as the area, in most places, is too rough for it to traverse.

And, for us, not having any way to evacuate the alpaca's in the event of a fire, we were nervous and RMan wasn't happy - he felt powerless and vulnerable.

So I climbed on Google and Gumtree.
Fire fighting water trailer
I managed to find what he was looking for -  a fire fighting water trailer. But they were in Johannesburg.  Ah well, couriers deliver...

We sent off an enquiry, got the necessary feedback, and placed our order and paid (in full - what was wrong with me, I know better!!).

One week delivery, became two, became three.  Asking for references (yeah, a bit late, but we were thinking that we had thrown away what was - for us - a fairly substantial amount of money) we contacted them.  Unanimously they all described waiting for ages, but that they did eventually get what they ordered.  So, fear allayed - a little bit...

After one and a half months enough was enough.  The excuses were becoming repetitive and our patience had run out weeks ago.

RMan requested his money back.

Two weeks after that he got 50% refunded.  And more excuses - the trailer will still be sent on Monday evening the next week, etc.

A further two weeks down the line he finally got the balance that was due to him.

Why - oh, why - did I pay them in full???  That is totally out of character for me.

Anyway, the company had use of a fairly substantial amount of money for 2-odd months.

But, we still didn't have any means of effectively beating a fire.  So Google again...
Thick rubber fire fighting beaters
 I found two companies who manufactured rubber mat fire beaters.
Premat fire beaters
 I contacted everyone in our little valley and asked if anyone wanted one - we were going to order.
Safequip fire beaters
Most of the other inhabitants also wanted so one or two, so armed with an order of 30-odd units, I asked if there was any chance of a discount on quantity.

Yup - quite a nice discount in fact.  Thanks Safequip ;)  That was greatly appreciated!

So, at least we are all now equipped with some basic means of protecting ourselves against a fire in our area.

I am still keeping my eye out for another water trailer manufacturer who can supply us a unit within our budget though... ;)

Disclaimer:  No discount was asked for nor given for sharing the info above.  It is shared here merely to assist anyone else who might be interested in having some sort of fire fighting equipment.


possumqueensa said...

When I was a kid, we had a veld fire every Sunday and had a good store of those heavy hessian grain sacks. We would wet them, which made them even heavier and bash the daylights out of the fire. Those brooms look a lot lighter.

Dani said...

pqsa - Even that has changed - now the feed bags are all made of plastic :(

Hmmm, not sure if the rubber mat fire beaters would be any lighter - especially if they're wielded for a couple of hours lol

Daisy Debs said...

Oh my goodness ! Terrifying! The most important thing is that you keep yourself safe !

Dani said...

Daisy Debs - Welcome and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

Yup, fire is always frightening, and if one can take steps to assist oneself then already one is in a better position. I need to find that water trailer for RMan though... ;)

Harry Flashman said...

I read this post several times, because as you know, we had a terrible fire season last summer. Fires got into some of the rural towns in eastern Tennessee and burned up not just part of the town but some of the people living out in the forest near them. North Carolina and North Georgia were badly hit with fires, most of them from arson.

There's not much I can do if a forest fire comes this way. Just pack up the ferrets and the dogs, and the cats we can catch, and get out. The chickens can escape if they have sense enough to, which I doubt.

Those pictures were really riveting. I know how you must have felt. You can't leave your Alpaca so I guess you have to stay and fight the fire as best you can. In California last year, some people didn't pay any attention to the warnings from the police, and got caught in the fire. They abandoned their animals, including their horses.

Dani said...

Harry - I know exactly what you mean. Living in the middle of a forest is heaven for most people, but the fire risk is high - and a deterrent to most.

As you say, luckily, most of your animals are small enough to shove in a vehicle (or two - to separate them ;) )

Nope, we could never leave our animals to fend for themselves. Knowing RMan, for the animal softy he is, he would probably put the alpaca's in the house to keep them safe - it would certainly be easier to protect the house than the whole property. We have purposely kept the vegetation round the house to a minimum - exactly for that reason...

Diana Studer said...

They recently started a new volunteer firefighter group in Elgin and Grabouw. Maybe your area needs one?

Dani said...

Diana - Yes, they are going to train some guys here too - probably later in the year ;)

Leigh said...

Yikes. As Harry mentioned, we had bad fire problems last year but all we got was smoke. Seeing the nighttime burning makes it much more uncertain and spooky. I hope everything goes well for you all and that you won't need your preparations.

Dani said...

Leigh - we hope so too. But, t'is better to be armed and ready... ;)