In 1997, PT SMART adopted a strict no-burning policy in our plantations to counter the haze problem. But fires can still spread to our plantations from outside due to extreme dry weather conditions caused by El Nino. Vegetation and soil become very dry and water levels in the surrounding streams and rivers fall, creating an environment where fire easily spreads underground through peat soils or by sparks carried on winds.
Down on the ground, our teams have to remain constantly vigilant and prepared to prevent and suppress any fire outbreak. As the saying goes, better safe than sorry.
To date, over 10,000 Emergency Response Team personnel have been trained and are stationed across all our plantations, ready to be deployed in the event of a fire emergency. Their training includes classroom theory sessions, simulations, emergency drills, and proper usage of equipment. They are also trained on health and safety issues.
At each plantation, the Emergency Response Teams have access to an array of fire-fighting equipment and protective gear including water container tanks, tractors, high-capacity portable water tanks, protective fire suits, binoculars, helmets and gloves, communications radios and fire hoses.
We require our plantations to regularly take inventory of the fire-fighting equipment and to carry out proper checks of these equipment to ensure that they are working properly. Once these checks have been completed, the teams are required to give the Fire Command Post at HQ an update.
We maintain approximately 12500 fire extinguishers, 200 water tank trailers, 250 high-capacity water pumps, and 1000 water hoses throughout our plantations.
During the dry season we increase the number of fire patrols and monitoring at our plantations. We also maintain a lookout for possible fires from the fire towers at the plantations.
Peat fires are very difficult to put out and it is critical to keep the peat wet in order to prevent fires from catching and spreading. Water levels in peat areas are maintained accordingly using sluice gates.
Once a fire has been successfully put out, a report is made detailing the location of fire, the date it started, the number of personnel involved in suppressing it as well as the cause of fire. Our senior management team and local authorities will then inspect the area of the fire to verify the information in the report.
Fires can cause immense damage to the health of our employees, the community and the environment. We recognize this and we take our responsibility to prevent, manage and suppress fires very seriously and will continue to channel resources into this very important task.