​​ ​Overview

Firefighting services in terms of Schedule 4, Part B of the South African Constitution is the responsibility of local government with national and provincial oversight. The Fire Brigade Services Act, 1987 (Act No. 99 of 1987) (FBSA) is the primary piece of legislation regulating fire services and provides for the establishment, maintenance, employment, co-ordination and standardisation of fire brigade services. In terms of the FBSA, local authorities are allowed to establish and maintain a fire brigade service for the following purpose:

  1. Preventing the outbreak or spread of a fire;
  2. Fighting or extinguishing a fire;
  3. The protection of life or property against a fire or other threatening danger;
  4. The rescue of life or property from a fire or other danger;
  5. Subject to the provisions of the Health Act, 1977 (Act No. 63 of 1977), the rendering of an ambulance service as an integral part of the fire brigade service; or
  6. The performance of any other function connected with any of the matters referred to in paragraphs (a) to (e).

Proclamation R 153 of 1994 further assigned, all sections of the Fire Brigade Services Act, 1987 (Act 99 of 1987), to the provincial sphere of government, with the exception of Section 2 (Fire Brigade Board) and 15 (Regulations) which remained the administrative responsibility of national government. Against this background, the Directorate Fire Services (D: FS) was established to oversee the administration of the FBSA which is one of the key mandates of the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG). The D: FS comprises a Senior Manager, Manager and Admin Assistant. Table 1 below summarises the key duties of the Directorate:


Primary MandateOther Key Duties
  • Develop Regulations in terms of the FBSA;
  • Provide secretariat support to the Fire Brigade Board;
  • Coordinate fire service activities nationally;
  • Establish national fire services institutional structures;
  • Provide targeted support and guidance to national, provincial, municipal and designated fire services structures;
  • Develop and review of regulatory frameworks for the fire services;
  • Serves as primary point of contact to United Nations (UN) International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG);  
  • Develop and support implementation of national fire safety and prevention strategies/ frameworks;
  • Establish partnerships with key role players;
  • Establish mechanisms for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of national standards;
  • Perform fire services capacity-building related processes and establish a fire services information management system.

The Department has identified the FBSA as one of the legislation that needs to be replaced with a comprehensive national fire services legislation which will be consistent and aligned with primary legislation governing local government in the country.  The review process is underway and further relevant details are provided under the projects page.