The Indonesian province of South Kalimantan, an island annually plagued by forest and ground fires in the dry season, is preparing its fire-fighting troops as the rainy season approaches its end.

The South Kalimantan Chapter of the Indonesian Palm Oil Producer Association (GAPKI) recently held a roll call for the 340 members of its forest and ground fire-fighting squad. The chapter’s Secretary Hero Setiawan said that unlike in past years, the present roll call in Banjarbaru, South Kalimantan, last weekend not only featured the personnel but also their equipment, GAPKI said in a report published on its official website on Tuesday (30/4).

“This year, the personnel that we are deploying represent all member companies of GAPKI, they are indeed personnel specially trained in handling forest and ground fires,” Setiawan said in the Antara news agency report which was published by GAPKI on its website.

Among the equipment on display were portable pumps with a variety of nozzles, special binoculars to calculate the distance of fire spots, and drones.

“This year’s roll call took the theme of Disaster Readiness should start from ourselves, our family and our community,” Setiawan said.

Besides setting up fire brigades, training and equipping them, companies have also helped the establishment of a number of communities in and around their operation areas. They include Fire Concerned Farmer Groups, Disaster Aware Villages, and Communities Concerned by Fires. On top of that, the efforts also helping to educate the society about the fires and how to prevent them, the groups also could help in promoting the role and function of the fire brigades.

There are some 50 GAPKI member companies in South Kalimantan and five of them have received awards from the province’s Governor for their active contribution in preventing and fighting against forest and ground fires in the province last year.

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