The forest fires of 2015 were an unforgettable experience for the people of Borneo as forest, agricultural land and plantations burnt. The flames spread quickly and fire hot spots could be seen across the island.
There were many challenges when fighting these fires and a lack of equipment and human resources, and the remote location of the fires resulted in blazes quickly burning out of control. The people in the nearby villages and communities are on the front line and the first people to be impacted by the devastating effects of these fires.
Facilitated by Borneo Nature Foundation, Yayasan Cakrawala Indonesia (YCI) in collaboration with Bukit Tunggal Fire-fighting Team and Badan Penanggulangan Bencana Daerah (BPBD) recently carried out training sessions in the village of Mungku Baru (the closest village to our field site in the Rungan Forest) to increase the readiness and capability of the community to fight fires in the future.
The training, entitled ‘Training on Disaster Management and Technical Control of Forest and Land Fire’, was held for three days from 15-17 July 2017. The training was attended by 30 participants (male and female) consisting of members of the Mungku Baru Forest and Land Fire Control Forum.
During the workshop, participants were given theoretical and practical training. They were presented with information about forest and land fire disaster management, types of forest and land fire, causes and impacts of fire, and post fire action.
The material presented included; group/institutional management, early warning systems and introduction of the Fire Risk System (FRS), forest and land fire safety techniques and work safety. At the end of the second day, a group discussion was held with the theme of ‘Action Planning for Forest and Land Fire Management’.
On the final day of training, participants were introduced to fire-fighting equipment and how to operate them by the Bukit Tunggal Fire-fighting Team. Participants were also taught special sign language that must be understood by all fire-fighters in an emergency situation.
Mr Wayan, the chairman of Bukit Tunggal, said that this community are the ideal target group for training because the majority of the trainees own land in Mungku Baru village so they should be provided with important information and practical skills for managing fires. He also hopes that such training is repeated regularly so that the information obtained by trainees will not disappear quickly and they can apply the information they have learnt to increase awareness to protect their environment and can be wiser about using fire for land clearing.
Mr. Riun, representing the trainees, expressed his gratitude to BNF, YCI, BPBD and Bukit Tunggal who have provided this training and hoped that the experience during these three days can be remembered and implemented by the participants, so they will be ready for any future fire incident.
We are now entering the annual “fire season” and are on high alert to the possibility of fires in the region. Supporting the frontline communities and providing training on fire disaster and mitigation ensures that we are one step closer to winning this long battle against the fires that have been ravaging Borneo for the last 20 years.