Kuala Belait, Brunei Darussalam — A joint forest fire training operation was conductedby the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) to test the competence of government agencies in a real disaster.
The operation codenamed “Ex-Gambut” was conducted for the first time in Brunei, at the Sungai Bera Seria light industrial site atAnduki/Seria bypass. It started at 8.30am yesterday.
The targeted forest areas along Lumut/Seria bypass, prone to peat fire during the country’s dry season, were used to test thegovernment agencies. The training was aimed at testing the efficiency of communication and evaluates the outcome of the operation to avertreal fire disasters.
Various government and private sector agencies involved in the operation included Seria and Sungai Liang Fire Stations; ThirdBattalion Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Bomba Shell, Royal Brunei Police Force, Electrical Department; Health Department; Public WorksDepartment and Red Crescent Association.
The operation was led by the Acting Director of NDMC and Fire and Rescue Department Awg Yahya bin Hj Abd Rahman.
The scenario: The air quality in Belait District has worsened, reducing visibility. Haze from persistent peat fires around Lumut-Seria bypass forestareas has thickened. Forest peat fires have reportedly occurred since August 14 and the air pollutant index has reached unhealthy levels.
The dry weather gave villagers the opportunity to conduct open burning. The critical situation reached”level one” disaster yesterday morning, which required action from the multi-governmentagencies in the district and the setting up of forward operation base.
The operation to douse the fires was divided into Sector A and Sector B. The peat forest fires yesterday spread to the forest reservearea. The main challenge was to completely put out the forest fire.
The fire and rescue team used fire fighting equipment, injector nozzle, ground monitor and total flooding to put out the peat fires.A helicopter from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces “water bombed” the affected forest areas from the air. Over 200 fire fighters fromOperation B Fire and Rescue department extinguished the forest fire.
The Royal Brunei Police Force controlled traffic by closing some parts of the roads during theoperation.