FRD issues advisory on open fires

James Kon

Statistics from the Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) indicate that it received 798 calls for forest and bush fires from January to April 2020, and 176 calls from January to May 3, 2021.

Given these figures and that Brunei Darussalam is currently experiencing hot and dry weather despite occasional rain, the FRD issued an advisory about the effects of open fires on the environment.

“The forest and bush fires, during dry weather conditions being currently experienced in the country, have resulted in pollution to the air quality, generated illnesses and destroyed vast green forests in the country,” said

the FRD. “In addition, smoke and hazy conditions from forest or bush fires will also affect the vision of road users, and may endanger river or sea transport.

“Peat forest fires are one of the challenges faced by firefighters when putting out large-scale fires that frequently occur in the country. These are believed to have stemmed from a natural event in the form of an underground fire or careless open burning in forested areas,” it said.

During unpredictable weather conditions, especially the current dry season, the FRD said it has already made preparations by using drones to monitor areas with the potential for forest and bush fires.

Firefighter putting out an open fire. PHOTO: JAMES KON

Members of the public are reminded not to discard lit cigarette butts in public areas.

Drivers should steer clear of roads or highways parallel to forest fires, since smoke from the fires can obstruct vision and result in accidents.

Open burning, which can result in large fires and the destruction of property, should be avoided.

Under Section 277A(2)(a), Chapter 22 of the Penal Code related to open burning, anyone found guilty of the offence will be fined up to BND100,000.

If the offence results in pollution to the atmosphere or endangerment to human life or property, the punishment is a fine or a prison term of up to five years, or both.

Meanwhile, the FRD said it also received 3,904 calls regarding disturbances by wild animals in 2020, and 1,197 from January to May 3, 2021.

The calls involved intrusion by snakes (932), monitor lizards (89) and crocodiles (17), which increased in frequency for a brief period in 2021.

Among the reasons for wildlife infestation at private residences is cluttered and messy environment which attracts rodents, said the FRD in an advisory.

Tall grass is possible nesting site for wildlife, while domestic poultry can become prey to animals that have lost their natural habitat due to drought, flooding or human encroachment.

Members of the public are urged to keep their home surroundings clean and tidy, in addition to securing doors and windows to prevent wild animals such as dogs, snakes, crocodiles, monkeys from entering.

For emergencies, call the FRD hotline at 995.