Better Management, Higher Awareness Result in 92% Drop in 2017 Fire Incidence
The number of fires recorded on APRIL’s and its supply partners’ concession areas in Riau between July and September 2017 dropped by 92 per cent over the same period last year, according to APRIL’s strategic fire management and protection teams.
This result continues a positive downward trend towards zero fire status and builds on the positive results achieved in 2015 and 2016. It is attributed to the combination of increasingly embedded fire prevention and management strategies at community level, including increased fire awareness, as well as favorable weather conditions.
Of the small number of fires recorded, almost all were found to be deliberately lit to clear land for small scale agriculture. Further analysis of APRIL’s fire data year-to-date shows that the average fire size also dropped to an average of 1.6 ha, down from 6.1 ha in 2016.
APRIL’s fire teams also ground-checked 245 fire alerts or hotspots during the year to date, though none were discovered to be actual fires.
APRIL’s fire prevention and suppression performance data is independently assessed by KPMG PRI – as part of the wider assessment of APRIL’s implementation of its Sustainable Forest Management Policy 2.0 – which provides an independent assurance on behalf of APRIL’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee. At an operational level, all incidences of fire are reported through the appropriate government channels.
These positive results compare well with findings from Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), which reported an almost 50 per cent decrease nationally in the number of land and forest fires so far this year overall, compared to the same period in 2016.
Improved prevention, preparation and suppression activities implemented as part of APRIL’s Fire Free Village Programme, where additional time is spent in the community raising awareness of the importance of fire prevention, also contributed to the positive results.
The FFVP covers 750,000 hectares of community agricultural land in Riau. The 2017 programme involves 18 villages, with 9 participating from the nearby island of Pulau Padang, with 9 villages advancing to the Fire Resilient Communities (FRC) phase after having been part of the FFVP for the past two years. A total of 50 villages are enlisted in the Fire Aware Community (FAC) phase that introduces key fire prevention messages to participants through activities such as Fire Aware Goes to the Movies and Fire Aware Goes to School.
For APRIL, the significant reduction not only in fires but also fire size reflects the benefits of the FFVP, but also continued improvements in preparation, fire-fighting training and equipment maintenance.
The 600-strong team of APRIL fire-fighters which patrols 26 estates is now undergoing Incident Command System (ICS) training with FireGround, a specialist Incident Management training group, to familiarise themselves with the concepts and terminology, as well as identifying commanders who can take the lead when the ICS is applied. Training is rigorous and includes a range of real-time practical scenarios to test endurance and mental resilience.
While the 2017 fire season has ended, teams will remain vigilant and commence planning for the next phase of the FFVP and continued integration with fire suppression practices and capability in pursuit of a fire free landscape.