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South Africa

FEEFA; Fire safety engineering where it's needed most

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South Africa

FEEFA; Fire safety engineering where it's needed most

In terms of fire safety,
we’re more than two decades
behind the UK and USA –
and every year that costs lives

Prof Richard Walls

Head of the Fire Engineering Research Unit

at Stellenbosch University

Fire is an everyday part of life – and death – in South Africa. A recent mega-fire which rampaged through the town of Knysna, killing seven people and destroying 1,000 homes, only stopped when it reached the ocean. That’s just one disaster among many that have caused human and economic misery across the country.

The single greatest challenge is a lack of university training. South Africa simply doesn’t have the fire engineering skills to make buildings, mines, ports, power stations and, especially, slums and shanty towns safe. In fact, experts agree that the country is trailing more than 20 years behind countries like the UK and USA.

Supported by a grant from Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the Fire Engineering Education for Africa (FEEFA) programme is the first ever postgraduate course in fire safety engineering in Africa. It’s a ground-breaking but vital step in the right direction. In addition, FEEFA is awarding bursaries for PhD students to undertake more in-depth research that will form the basis for future expertise, such as how homes built using ‘bricks’ of recycled plastic could impact fire safety.

During 2019, the programme welcomed its first 20 students and is also about to publish a textbook on fire safety engineering for informal settlements, which was commissioned by the South African Government and co-funded by LRF. Together, FEEFA and LRF are raising the bar on fire safety in South Africa – providing the expertise that will protect property and save lives.

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Further Reading

  • Engineering fire safety in South Africa

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