Please help us raise funds for much needed fire fighting safety equipment for our men and women who are volunteer fire fighters.
The Drakenstein Farm watch is an entity, which operates as a citizens initiative to advice, complement and/or temporary replace ( when lacking or not available at time ) existing emergency structures ( medical, fire or police ). If matters would run smoothly and on time, there would be no need for a farm watch or security company in a well-organized society.
The farm watch focusses not only on fire, but has a strong medical response and armed response team in place as well. The fact that these initiatives are enjoying publicly and especially in the farming community great appreciation needs no further explanation.
The Drakenstein Farm watch is very much involved in the social economic environment of its community and through its command structure and radio network, covers 132 square kilometres, 600 farms and more than 30.000 people residing in its working terrain.
The farm watch commanders and many member/volunteers all have experience in the various fields the farm watch operates and our teams can rely on medical, legal, military and firefighting specialists, all being part and member of the entity.
The farm watch is community driven and on a volunteer basis. The funding comes from within and by donations given out of appreciation or support. Structures have been registered and an executive board and management team is in place.
The farm-watch has no municipal, provincial or national funding nor has this been required by our board. The farm-watch strives to be independent, self-supporting, self-funded, volunteer driven observative and on top of matters.
The farm watch has a huge radio emergency network and is linked to the Northern Suburbs Community Control Centre in Durbanville. All our emergency response and call-outs to other emergency services are co-ordinated by this entity.
All members and especially the response team members have radio communication with their commanders, main command and the higher control centre. This makes our operations much more effective and up to date.
The farm watch has over the recent years invested in hardware, communication structures, radio networks and personal equipment ( medical, fire and armed response ) as well in 6x 700litre “bakkie” units, a 5500 litre tanker truck and 4x4 fire truck and more is in the pipe line.
The Farm watch has a signed agreement with ADT since 2014 in a joint venture on security and medical emergencies and vice versa on firefighting issues, meaning, all legalities of entering and acting are in place for as far this was not already in place by the various fire emergency acts. You might want to join.
The farm watch efforts and operations, can and should be used by the public, to establish a bench market against which, the efforts of other State entities can be measured against.
Now that we have given you some insights of our modus operandi, we want to react to some issues we might all endure..
Firstly, our management team have been busy for 3 years with Provincial General and specifically disaster management through various meetings and written requests from our side, to pinpoint problems and security issues and offer solutions in solving them. Non have led to any sort of decision or positive response from their side.
Secondly and even up to recently, we have had various discussions and e-mail traffic with Municipal emergency response managers regarding the co-operation between both our fire-fighting and law enforcement entities. A joint radio-network, control-room and field co-operation was discussed by our initiative, however needless to say, so far in vain.
Thirdly, we have had discussions with the FPA and its managers and have written a lengthy letter before the fire-season, to improve the functioning there-off and how we could integrate the various philosophies in one. Needless to say, we received no answer and we know the fire disasters which have emerged from the disfunctionality.
Fourthly we tried already for 4 years to get the police to communicate with the community control centre but these doors stay closed as it seems as well.
What we did so far this year/season besides all of the above, is:
Voluntarily and without financial gain or retribution, in nearly all cases and so asked for, responding to the many reported medical or crime related incidents and rural fires.
In many cases of fire in the rural area, if not all, it was our fire-fighting or medical response teams , which were first on scene due to availability and direct communication lines. Needless to say, that due to first responder status at the given moment, ad hoc decision and relief or fire fight commence/decisions are made by our group or field commanders. In all cases where other State or Provincial entities emerge, we give over command and either continue the fight or extract from the scene.
The farm watch teams focus on social economic level.
Hence the foresaid, we have extraction teams in place for both human and animal extraction out of the disaster area.
These extraction efforts are also made possible due to our very fruitful cooperation with the Paarl police with whom we have built a solid structure and which relation is built on common grounds and mutual respect. An accreditation by the cluster commander regarding our efforts has been issued. ( but no radio options ).
Secondly, we focus on saving the crops and infra structures on farms during the fire-fights in contrary to efforts of many other State emergency entities and therefore trying to save the jobs and future of the farming community.
During the last big fires, it were our teams joined and complemented by the Paarl police, who did not only focus on the fires, build also on the human side of the equation. On given moments, we had more than 60 !! teams in action busy with trailers and busses to take people and animals out. We even reached international praise for these efforts of which you might not be aware or have overlooked.
Due to extreme performance, sacrifice and community appreciation, we often have a positive press and make use of this accordingly to create awareness and do fund raising.
We should be seen as a first response and tactical team, with the right equipment for fast and first relieve response and fire-fight.
We use our own command structure and radio frequencies, not to be shared and diluted by third non complying entities to our goals.
We work on a volunteer basis and are self-funded and in the light thereof, we remain the privilege to dictate our own input to the effort and use of resources at the discretion of our executive board or field commanders.
We cannot and should not be seen as a deployable asset by any National, Provincial or municipal driven entity nor can we be fitted in, into an incident command frame-work of which good reasons are given above and further, as approved communication structures with the other entities are not yet finalised.
We have legal structures in place in respect with entering premises and in case of fires, we act on the fire protection act, meaning, we assist or act as first responders when needed to prevent spread or further damages to neighbouring properties or settlements. We strife to continue to do so and respond to increasing requests from our area.
We have so far a sound working relation with ADT and its armed response officers and we assist each other vice versa. This proves to be a killer application and we now reached the state where we think it is time other security companies within the same philosophy to join in.
As we know, the Drakenstein safety initiative is to be formed by the Municipality. This initiative came from pressure from our group upon the Ministers of security and safety and economic affairs. Unfortunately and as always, the State, Provincial and Municipal entities which failed society the most now think or hope, that by joining ranks and forming another entity, that matters will improve.
You can all have your own thoughts, but if it is not organized by the business world or farming community and have some bright minds, it will be the next attempt over a long period, wasting every bodies time. Let’s hope it succeeds and let’s give it the benefit of the doubt and on the side line construct our own entity.
In the meantime we all are still stuck with deteriorating circumstances and increasing crime and political unrest. We have the same goals, both farm-watch and security companies alike, and both see our existence paid or donated for by the community who would not pay or sponsor us if they had the idea they could rely on the various authorities. This is our entire business case in a nutshell.