Forest fires destroy over 500 hectares this year

James Kon

The Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) received 450 calls on forest fires that destroyed 569.73 hectares from January to August 2020 while it responded to 306 calls on bush fires where 151.671 hectares were destroyed.

The FRD also received 10 calls regarding forest and bush fires which involved homes.

Senior Superintendent of Fire and Rescue (SSFR) Nooraflan bin Kachi revealed these details at a press conference yesterday.

He also said the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam spent BND128,823.88 in overall cost of operations to combat forest fires in 2019, especially during dry weather.

SSFR Nooraflan said the department responded to 984 calls on forest fires in 2019 which destroyed 1422.5 hectares of forest, equivalent to 1,270 football fields and forest value of BND180,370.95 while 673 calls on bush fires were received with 350.7 hectors destroyed.

He said during the Southwest Monsoon, the wind blows from the west.

“During the Southwest season, atmospheric conditions are usually relatively stable.

File photo shows firefighters in action. PHOTO: FRD
Senior Superintendent of Fire and Rescue Nooraflan bin Kachi
Hotspots in neighbouring countries are shown in this illustration provided by the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) in Singapore. PHOTOS: FRD

Thunderstorms decrease compared to during the monsoon transitions in April and May. The Southwest season will usually continue until September. During the peak of the season which is around August, countries in the Southeast Asia region will usually experience haze due to the dry weather.”

He said in preparation for the dry season and the unpredicted weather pattern, the department requested the public to follow safety measures and be vigilant.

“The country usually experiences hazy conditions during the peak of the season due to the dry weather which can cause frequent forest and bush fires,” SSFR Nooraflan said.

He said firefighters face challenges in combatting forest fires, especially peat forest fire which takes a long time to extinguish.

SSFR Nooraflan said it can also affect the public’s safety and health if the fire continues to spread.

“Operations to extinguish peat forest fires require heavy equipment and logistic. Firefighters are also exposed to health hazards while they also sometimes encounter wild animals,” he said.

SSFR Nooraflan requested the public to avoid open burning and also extinguish small bush or forest fires.

Meanwhile, the department in 2019, responded to 13 calls over search and rescue for people reported lost while from January to August 2020, it received 25 calls.

Meanwhile with regard to wild animals, especially snakes, the FRD received 2,459 calls in 2019 and 1,768 calls from January to August 2020.

The public can contact the FRD on 995 during an emergency.

It is also providing the Life Saver 995 Course and the Fire Marshall Course for the public.