Fire destroys over 1,500 hectares

James Kon

Statistics provided by the Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) from January to September 14 reveal 1,502.97 hectares of land have been destroyed by fire, which is equivalent to 1,342 football fields. In the same period, the FRD received 848 emergency calls for forest fires and 585 for bush fires.

According to the Brunei Darussalam Meteorological De-partment (BDMD), the country is nearing the end of the southwest monsoon season, with the intensity of the southwest wind decreasing and heavy rainfall starting to occur at nighttime.

In view of this, the FRD has issued the following public reminders: Avoid from carrying out open burning, disposing of lit cigarette butts or starting campfires. In the current dry season, reptiles and insects will look for shelter in cooler places inside houses, storerooms and toilets, so homeowners should take extra precaution.

Drivers are advised to reduce vehicle speed and to switch on their headlights in areas where there are forest fires. They should look for safe place to stop, if caught in a hazy situation.

Hikers should make sure that they have enough water to prevent dehydration. They should not go hiking alone and are encouraged to bring along a mobile phone, a whistle and a flashlight, in case of emergencies.

At the beach, do not go swimming when feeling unwell. Stay on the shore during bad weather and always monitor the whereabouts of children on the beach. Use a lifejacket when going water-jet skiing and wind surfing. In cases of drowning, use a life jacket first before trying to save the victim.

During stormy weather, do not go outside or drive in those conditions unless necessary. If caught in bad weather, find a safe place to stop and wait out the storm.

Members of public are also urged to check the land areas surrounding their homes and be ready to evacuate, if there are signs of a major landslide.

During strong winds, do not go outside and avoid from parking vehicles under trees, utility poles, signboard and other high-risk objects. Those living in low-laying areas or near rivers are advised to get frequent updates on the weather, to monitor the water levels and to store important documents in a safe place.

Do not go near drainage, rivers or utility poles, and keep an eye on the whereabouts of children.

During a lightning storm occurs, do not carry out outside activities. Keep away from open areas, trees and metal structures.

To report forest or bush fires, or other fire-related emergencies, contact the FRD at 995. For cases of open burning, contact the Darussalam hotline at 123.