Waterberg Nature Conservancy, working with the Melkrivier Fire Protection Association, has introduced a free SMS-based fire warning system for the benefit of residents in the Melkrivier / Vaalwater areas.

The system is based on the successful assessment process developed by Sappi

It uses the parameters of temperature, humidity, wind speed and time since last rainfall to calculate a Fire Danger Index (FDI)

This index is then divided into different categories of fire risk – Yellow (Dangerous), Orange (Very Dangerous), Red (Extremely Dangerous)

A procedure has been set up to measure the various parameters making up the FDI each day between August and November.   The FDI will then be calculated.

If the FDI falls into one of the dangerous categories, a SMS message will be sent to all Conservancy members and other residents with cellphones.  The cost of the service will be borne by the Conservancy.


The system will be used to alert members of the Community to fires that may have broken out in the area and for which assistance has been requested.  You are asked to respond to these requests.

This service is intended for the benefit of you, your neighbours and the environment.


The Fire Danger Index (FDI)




FDI 41-55

FDI 56-70

FDI 71-85




Flame 1.2-1.8 meters

Flame 1.8-2.4 meters

Flame 2.4+ meters

Lightning, open flames, burning embers, etc may strat fires.

Mature grassland and bush litter will burn readily, spread is oderate in thickets, fast in open area.

Fires burn on the surface with moderate flames.

Control is not difficult with fire unit and labour.

Light to moderate mopping up will be necessary

Ignition can occur readily, spread may be fast in thickets through not for sustained periods.

Grass fire could outstrip forces with a speed of 8km/hour. 

Fires may be very hot.

Control will be difficult, requiring ground support, back-burning and indirect attack methods.

Close monitoring of extinguished fire edge necessary to prevent flair-ups.

Damage potential moderate.

Ignition can occur from sparks.

Rate of spread will be extremely fast for extended period.

Fires will be extremely hot with a dangerous heat load on people within 10m of fire and there may be whirlwinds.

Control will be very difficult and may become impossible by frontal attack or back-burning during the day.

Efforts may have to be limited to confining lateral spread until weather changes. 

External ground force assistance and air support may be necessary. 

Mopping up operations may be extensive and difficult, with prolonged monitoring.

Damage potentially severe.