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In most parts of Indonesia, including Sumatra, forest fires have become a seasonal phenomenon. Every year, when the dry season is about to start, the government seeks to double down on forest and peatland fire prevention.

While the measures taken by the Environment and Forestry Ministry are getting more sophisticated each year, with the help of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) and the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), community vigilance is extremely important.

The involvement of community members who live in fire prone areas is essential to prevent the yearly crisis from happening.

In March, community members of the Maro Sebo Ilir district, Batanghari regency, Jambi, decided to form a forest-fire prevention team, dubbed Fire Aware Community (FAC).

FAC members are volunteers from local communities who are concerned that dry conditions will induce hot spots around their villages. As part of Asian Agri’s Fire-Free Village Program (FFVP), the members were being proactive since the first establishment of FAC and received basic fire-fighting training.

The training was held with the cooperation of the head of Maro Sebo Ilir district, local police station chief and local firefighters.

“Multi-stakeholder synergy is needed to take the right preventive measures for forest fires around the company’s operational area,” said Asian Agri Senior Manager, Imam Setiyadi.

As many as 60 people from seven villages in Maru Sebo Ilir district attended the training. FAC members received theoretical explanation on how to stay calm and take the right action during crisis, as well ashands-on experience in the training.

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