Walking with Fire: A Wildfire Documentary

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Walking with Fire: A Wildfire Documentary
Climate Change

Walking with Fire: A Wildfire Documentary is a solution to the tremendous ecological, estate and habitat loss caused by the increasing number of wildfires in the Western Cape, South Africa. This educational film was created to raise awareness and educate the public on the dangers of wildfires, with the overall goal of reducing the number of wildfire ignitions.

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The Goal

Based on the unique wildfires of the Western Cape, South Africa, the challenge was to bring to life the struggles and damage these wildfires cause, whilst creating awareness and environmental education through the stories of those who battle these rampant wildfires. The frequency and intensity of wildfires in the Cape region have increased drastically over the last decade due to irregular climate patterns, population growth on the urban-wildland interface and an increase in human negligence and premeditated ignitions. This 33min documentary highlights different aspects of modern-day fire suppression, prevention, and touches on both the history & science of wildfires in the Cape Floral Kingdom.

The Experience

In order to get access to fire lines in rural and urban areas, including being trooped up the helicopter - The film crew needed to be qualified as wildland firefighters. Director, Justin Sullivan, has over 5 years of experience documenting wildfires and is a qualified crew leader. Alistair Daynes completed his wildland training before filming commenced. The film crew worked closely with local FPA's, Contractors and Fire Chiefs from the various districts around the province The number of wildfire ignitions and ecological damage is increasing year on year, the damage to both the ecosystems and potential disasters are predicted to get worse, and the number one contributing factor to all wildfire ignitions is human-related. The documentary approach is to stop the wildfires before they start, to reduce the number of ignitions to protect the ecosystems in danger of over burning, and to protect the lives and homes of those living in the Western Cape. This approach to fighting wildfires embraces the idea that "an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of the cure".

The Role

This documentary was contracted by the Western Cape Provincial Government Disaster and Fire & Rescue Services, directed by Justin Sullivan and contracted to https://www.justinsullivan.org/. The team included Alistair Daynes and Justin Sullivan as camera operators, which was filmed over three months during the 2018 to 2019 fire season, and the use of additional archive footage from the previous 4 years. #FireIsEveryonesFight. Note: Images on this page were photographed by Justin Sullivan.

The Outcome

The film has been distributed to all FPA's and Fire related organisations to share in future training, workshops, presentations and more. To date, over 6400 have watched this film, and there has been a noticeable improvement in the way the general public is acting towards wildfires. This cannot solely be attributed to the documentary, but rather as a collaborative effort over the past few years to increase public & landowner awareness via case studies and visual content creation on the dangers associated with wildfires and how to mitigate these risks.

"Outstanding work wow, very inspiring and gives me the desire to help as much as I can to prevent and assist when these disasters happen."

Neil Fluencer

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