Big boost for the bakkie-sakkie

Compact and powerful … the new bakkie sakkie is a result of collaboration between Anco Manufacturing and Husqvarna.

Every land manager knows that early detection and rapid response is the best method for keeping your property safe from wildfires. Often the first person to arrive at a wildfire is a forester or farmer with a ‘bakkie sakkie’ which is able to get close enough to the fire to extinguish it before it gets big, dangerous and out of control.

Those precious few minutes provide a window of opportunity that can make the difference between a minor fire statistic and a major wildfire disaster. It’s at times like this that the forester/farmer wants to know that the bakkie sakkie on the back of his vehicle is armed and loaded and ready to deploy a jet of water with enough velocity to kill the fire quickly and efficiently.

Now two heavy-weight equipment suppliers - Husqvarna and ANCO Manufacturing - have collaborated in an exciting partnership to develop a highly effective, robust and reliable 'Bakkie Sakkie' mobile firefighting unit that is well adapted to combating veld and forest fires.

Ruan van Schalkwyk, Husqvarna's Area Business Manager for Limpopo and Mpumalanga, and the project's pointsman, explains: "The concept is simple yet remarkably ingenious. ANCO designed a water tank engineered to be mounted at the rear of a bakkie (pickup truck). Powered by a robust Husqvarna multi-purpose engine (MPE) and a high-capacity water pump, the result is a mobile firefighting unit that can be rapidly deployed to combat fires, even in the most remote and challenging terrains.”

The key component of this firefighting innovation is the Husqvarna HH 163 MP multi-purpose engine, known for its reliability and robustness. It features a powerful 163cc petrol engine that is durable, water, and rust-resistant, making it ideal for the 'Bakkie Sakkie' unit.

“This engine is built to withstand the harsh conditions often encountered during firefighting,” says Ruan.
One of the standout features of the HH 163 MP is its optimised combustion chamber and air vent, resulting in lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions during operation.

Casper Pieterse, the Operations Manager at ANCO Manufacturing, says that the decision to partner with Husqvarna was an easy one. “The idea for the collaboration originated with Husqvarna South Africa’s Managing Director, Pieter Smuts. When it was presented to us, we recognised the potential of their product powering the ‘Bakkie Sakkie’, offering farmers a game-changing, reliable solution to the very real and ongoing threat of veld fires.”

Anco Manufacturing is a proudly South African company that specialises in the manufacture of a variety of fire fighting units and equipment as well as silviculture equipment used in forestry, such as mechanised boom planters.

By combining the ‘Bakkie Sakkie’ with the HH 163 MP multi-purpose engine that fits snugly on the back of a bakkie, farmers and foresters can respond swiftly and effectively to fires, making all the difference in containing a blaze before it escalates.

“Husqvarna has an impressive reputation for reliability, and we are confident that by combining our manufacturing expertise with Husqvarna’s powerful MPE, we have a dependable resource that will deliver optimal performance when it’s needed most,” adds Casper.

The partnership between Husqvarna and ANCO Manufacturing has positioned both companies as innovators in firefighting technology. Their commitment to creating an effective product that will assist professionals, as well as farmers in their firefighting efforts, showcases their ongoing dedication to finding creative solutions that also maximise safety. The ‘Bakkie Sakkie’ represents a new standard in innovation and another step forward in ensuring that first responders have the tools they need to access and attack fires before they get away.

For more information on the HH 163 MP or to view Husqvarna’s range of products, visit https://www.husqvarna.com/za/

‘Our roots are in timber’

Safire CEO Pierre Bekker (left), with Gareth Smallbones, Manager: Agriculture.

Safire has evolved from specialist timber insurer to offering a diversified range of insurance products, providing protection to clients in an increasingly volatile world …

Pierre Bekker, CEO of Pietermaritzburg-based Safire Insurance, discusses the dynamics of the current insurance market, and acknowledges the solid foundation created through their timber insurance business.

“Global insurance has been very difficult for the past few years, both in terms of claims expenses from natural catastrophes and the supply side of the business,” says Pierre. “There have been dramatic and costly events such as vast fires in Chile (2023), Greece and Siberia (2021), where 18 million hectares of forests were burned, and the Australian wildfires in 2020 and 2022, where 12.6 million hectares of both natural and commercial forests were destroyed, as well as the Californian wildfires of 2020-2021. There have also been severe wind storms in Europe. In addition, flooding and earthquakes have caused widespread devastation around the world.”

Charts courtesy of Munich RE, NatCATSERVICES.

According to a United Nations Environment Programme report from 2022 entitled Spreading Like Wildfire, “climate change and land-use change are making wildfires worse”, with a warning to anticipate “a global increase of extreme fires even in areas previously unaffected”.

Violent wind storms are amongst the most damaging natural hazards in Europe, with annual loses reaching approximately € 5 billion in the EU and UK, with the highest absolute losses experienced in Germany (€ 850 million/year), France (€ 680 million/year), Italy (€ 540 million/year) and the UK (€ 530 million/year).

“Premiums collected by any insurer will never be sufficient to cover policyholders’ claims in a year of severe natural disasters, so insurers have to hold capital to meet the obligation to pay policyholders for possible claims that may or may not materialise. This capital comes at a cost and when interest rates increase this cost of capital increases,” explains Pierre. This is what Pierre refers to as the supply side of the insurance industry. Simply put, it is the amount of insurance capacity available and both the amount and cost of such capacity is inextricably linked to global financial markets.

“After COVID, there was an almost unprecedented reduction in interest rates and capital flowed into the insurance markets,” he says. “This resulted in significant increases in the insurance capacity available which further softened the insurance cycle, leading to unsustainably low premiums. Just as the term ‘zombie firm’ refers to a company that doesn’t earn enough to cover its interest costs yet continues to operate, so the market has seen a rise in so-called zombie insurance capacity during the era of easy money. This refers to insurers extending their capacity to writing business at technically unprofitable levels and for classes that they do not normally participate in.”

However, the days of easy money are over and the sudden rise in interest rates is now reversing this trend in no small measure. “The supply side constraints would on their own have a hardening effect on insurance markets, pushing rates up in conjunction with the increasing cost of capital,” says Pierre. “But combine this with the devastating natural catastrophes of the past few years, which have resulted in massive claims costs for insurers, and we have a perfect storm playing out in the global insurance markets. Predictions are now pointing to a severe hardening in the markets, the likes of which have not been seen since 1992.”

Safire came about because of the high cost of timber insurance in South Africa in the 1980s, a situation created by the cost to global insurers of devastating fires in South America and elsewhere in the world. Timber grower Bailey Bekker, Pierre’s father, conceived the concept of a timber insurance co-operative, with individual timber growers contributing to a pool of resources shared by other low-risk timber growers.

A special feature of commercial forestry is that, compared to other crops, plantations have a significantly extended growth period, depending on the tree species, geography and timber product in question. Accordingly, the related capital is bound and the trees are exposed to various risks for an extended period of time. However, despite their long risk exposure periods, only a small percentage of the world’s forests are currently insured.

“It is impossible for an individual timber grower to completely self-insure effectively”, says Pierre. “Forestry risk is considered to be low frequency and high catastrophe in nature. Because of this, the pooling effect of insurance is vital. Many timber growers that pool their premiums together pay for the very large, severe losses of the few. This is exactly why Safire was founded and continues to serve this purpose to this day.”

Although insurance markets are facing the ‘perfect storm’ on both the supply and claims expense fronts, Pierre explains that Safire offers protection against this market volatility for the following reasons:

  1. Relationship with reinsurers
    Our reinsurers have long agreed to treat our forestry pool of risk outside of the major volatility in the open markets. This has come about because of a reciprocal loyalty we have to each other that transcends hard and soft market cycles. This loyalty could only have been offered to our reinsurers on behalf of our insured members because of the loyalty of our members to supporting the pool during good and bad times.
  2. Performance of the pool
    The loss performance of our pool has consistently out-performed the market and we have shown really good results for our reinsurers over an extended period of 35 years, since Safire was started in 1987. This is in no small part due to a very selective underwriting approach where only well-managed risks are allowed access to the pool.

Pierre continues, “We are not completely immune to market forces but we have serious protection against extreme volatility, which in recent years has led to no insurance capacity for some commercial timber growers in our local market.”

Insurance is based on the number and frequency of natural disasters with actual and anticipated events being considered as per actuarial science models. ”Interestingly enough, our data shows that, locally, fires are not getting worse,” says Pierre. “Plantation fires in South Africa have not necessarily been more severe or brought about higher losses since the devastating fires of 2007 and 2008 that severely affected industrial forestry plantations.”

Weather models are now predicting South Africa to be moving from a typically wet (and unusually extended) three-year La Niña cycle into a dry El Niño period with the possibility of dry weather conditions bringing about low volatility in terms of natural disasters but potentially increasing the risk of fire.

Since its beginnings as a local timber insurer supported by the prestigious Lloyds of London, Safire has expanded to provide a diverse range of short-term insurance products. The company has seen an impressive 20% growth for the past few years, and while forestry only accounts for some 10% of the business these days, growth and diversification has enabled Safire to provide even better timber insurance services on a much more sustainable basis, in addition to its wider short-term insurance offering. But Safire’s timber clients are still close to Pierre’s heart. “It’s where our roots are, and for many years we were the only true suppliers of timber insurance to the local timber growers. It’s a partnership that we value…”

Protecting forestry equipment, operators & the environment from fire

If you are buying a new Tigercat machine from AfrEquip, there is a good chance that your
equipment will come with a FOGMAKER Fire Suppression System already installed. This is because Tigercat and AfrEquip have recognized the effective technology behind FOGMAKER’s high-pressure water mist fire suppression system, and will recommend to customers that a FOGMAKER system should be installed prior to sending any piece of forestry equipment out into the field to protect this valuable asset, the operator and the surrounding environment.

The majority of forestry equipment fires are preventable - strict housekeeping and timely maintenance are key factors in this strategy. However in the unfortunate event that a fire does strike, early detection while the fire is small and contained is crucial. FOGMAKER’s automatic fire detection and suppression system is designed and installed to effectively detect and suppress fires within the engine and hydraulic compartments of forestry equipment.

FOGMAKER South Africa can assist customers with financing if needed. Installations are scheduled soonest with minimal equipment downtime.

The FOGMAKER system can be installed on the production line at the TIGERCAT manufacturing facility or in-field by certified FOGMAKER field engineers. Emergency preparedness training is part of the FOGMAKER fire suppression offering, which is conducted on site after every installation. This provides operators with the confidence and the knowledge to react quickly and correctly in the case of a heat or fire incident, thereby minimising the impact of the fire and preventing its spread to the surrounding environment.

The synergy between AfrEquip, Tigercat and FOGMAKER is all about promoting responsible forestry through safeguarding and protecting equipment, people and the environment.

The fact that FOGMAKER is a water-based fire suppression system is another feather in its cap.
The FOGMAKER fire suppression system simultaneously disrupts all three sides to the fire triangle.
FOGMAKER’s suppressant includes, in low concentrations, an Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF)
which forms a protective barrier on the surface of any flammable material or fuel, thus preventing the fuel from being available for combustion. FOGMAKER refers to this as Pure Performance with Triple Action3.

FOGMAKER South Africa offers a comprehensive sales and service package to customers including sales and installation, financing, training, routine scheduled inspections, service calls and system recharges.

If you order your FOGMAKER fire suppression installation before the end of 2021 you will also be contributing to an exciting reforestation project with FOGMAKER South Africa and PLATBOS forest in the Cape! So, you can help protect our forests by preventing fires and planting trees.

AfrEquip supplies the South African forestry industry with modern, mobile, purpose-built equipment. The company’s mission is to be the leading supplier of equipment, parts, and quality service in the Southern African forestry and biofuel market. AfrEquip’s services include sales, maintenance, product support and all the relevant training courses designed to enhance operator productivity.

AfrEquip has five branches located in South Africa’s forestry hotspots: Pietermaritzburg (KZN), Mbombela / Nelspruit (Mpumalanga), Mkhondo / Piet Retief (Mpumalanga) and Ugie (Eastern Cape).

For more info, visit: www.fogmaker.co.za