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10 Favourite Things about the Western Cape – From the Volunteer Wildfire Services perspective

February 25, 2014 By:

We asked the Volunteer Fire Services to list their 10 favourite things about South Africa's sublime Western Cape. Read on - and enjoy the wonderful photographs they sent us too. You can find out more about these brave people after the list.

Fynbos – found exclusively in the Western Cape, and nowhere else in the world, this extremely beautiful and unique vegetation is of high conservation priority and its preservation is the reason we do what we do.

Mountains – One of the best features the Western Cape is its huge mountain ranges. Most of our training takes place in the Jonkershoek Valley or in and around the Table Mountain area. Getting to explore these natural wonders is one of the highlights of being a volunteer with the VWS.

Climate – The Mediterranean Climate means that we get to experience the best of both worlds with relatively mild winters and very warm summers. There is nothing better than the beach during summer and huddling up by the fire during a Cape winter storm.

Water – The Western Cape is home to some of the most beautiful rivers, dams, oceans, estuaries and wetlands.  Not only is water visually one of the most incredible things to look at, but as fire fighters it is the best resource to have around when fighting fire. Water is essential for life, and we all have a responsibility to preserve and protect the Western Capes fresh water supply.  

Sunrise and Sunset – Watching the sunrise every morning and sink below the horizon every evening is one of the most magical experiences. After a long hot day fighting fires, sunset comes as a welcome relief, as fires are easier to manage after dark.

Night Skies – nothing better than looking up at the night sky after the sun goes down and seeing the stars twinkling back. Definitely one of the perks of being deployed at night to often very remote mountain areas.

 

Firefighting helicopters – are like gifts from above when fighting fire, and are amazing to watch at work. Getting to ride to a fire in a helicopter is and unbeatable and incredible experience. Definitely something that every VWS firefighter hopes to get the opportunity to experience.

Natural Heritage – one of the greatest things about living and working in the Western Cape it that we have access to such a variety of Nature Reserves, National Parks and Botanical Gardens.

People – living in such a diverse country means that we get to interact with people from all walks of life. As members of the VWS we get to interact with many different people and firefighting organisations, all coming together on the mountains of the Western Cape to fight for a common goal, the protection of our delicate biodiversity. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of being in the VWS.

City Lights on Dark Nights – during the winter we do a lot of our training at night. Looking out over the city of Cape Town and seeing the city lights below us and the moon above us is a very special experience.

Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS)

The VWS is a non-profit organisation run entirely by volunteers.

The passion that drives these volunteers, who receive no pay, means they are on call 365 days a year and 24 hours a day. It is this passion that makes them drop what they are doing, wake up in the middle of the night and leave friends and family to respond to a fire call thereby assisting SANParks and CapeNature. Responding out of three stations, situated in Newlands, Jonkershoek and the South Peninsula, they are instantly recognisable in their yellow landrovers, which carry them to and from the fires on the mountains. This passion is drawn from a love of the outdoors being married to a desire to make a difference, and has resulted in the VWS contributing over 41000 active firefighting hours combating the vegetation fires that threaten our natural biodiversity, an amazing feat for a small band of dedicated volunteers.

With only 180 members in total, the VWS relies on the generous support of donations and sponsorship in order to remain operational and also initiates their own fundraising events to raise the majority of their funds. Money raised from these events goes directly towards operational costs. Those with children will know their brilliant Open Day (Newlands) and Awareness Day (Jonkershoek) which results in happy children and worn-out parents every year, while those who love running in the mountains will know the popular Trail Run Series, spear headed by the Deer Park Trail Run and now joined by the Race for Water held at Lievland Wine Estate.

The following YouTube Videos provide a better idea of what the VWS does.

VWS Thin Yellow Line -  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP-Qd3_2BE0       

Fire Call -  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR-Ksf3OprY       

For more information on the VWS please visit our website (www.vws.org.za), like us on Facebook (Volunteer Wildfire Services) or follow us on twitter (@vwsfires).

LandnSand Rover

LandnSand Rover was a Stellenbosch street cat, before he joined the team as an intern roving reporter. Some say that he can be seen late at night, prowling along Dorp Street to the town centre, in search of hot leads (or a bar that won't inspect his ID card too closely). His interests include fishing, wine and mice and his main ambition is to grow old enough to attend wine tastings. He answers all his own fan mail.

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