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APRIL’s Fire Free Village Program (FFVP) is a three-stage fire prevention program which aims to raise awareness about the negative impacts of land burning among local communities in Riau, Indonesia.

In 2015, fires throughout Indonesia during the annual “burning season” resulted in record haze concentrations, with the negative environmental and health impacts of the incident drawing both local and international attention.

That same year, APRIL launched the FFVP with the realization that a longer-term solution is required for fire awareness and supression in Indonesia, identifying and working with nine high fire risk villages in a pilot project.

The villages which had joined the FFVP recorded a 90 per cent reduction in burnt areas that year. This success then spurred the program’s expansion to cover 18 communities.

In 2016, the FFVP also grew to introduce Fire Aware Community (FAC) as a first stage of the fire and safety training program, in recognition of the fact that an immediate step-up to the second FFVP stage – Fire Free Village (FFV) – may be overwhelming for new communities.

FAC introduces the project to new communities through a range of community awareness and community engagement activities. It is therefore an introduction for communities to fire-free concepts and initiatives, helping them to better understand the impacts of burning and smoke haze on their children and vulnerable members of the community.

The FAC stage is meant to be a powerful motivator to these communities to want to move into the FFV stage, which involves receiving assistance and financial rewards.

At present, the FAC consists of four key areas, which are run in collaboration with local non-government organisations (NGOs): ‘Fire Free Goes to School’, ‘Fire Free Goes to the Movies’, ‘Fire Free Religious Leaders’, and ‘Fire Free Haze Awareness’.

‘Fire Free Goes to School’, also known as The Schools Awareness Program, sees elementary and junior high school students developing fire awareness through interactive workshops and consuming engaging publications (such as comics). The program is meant to propagate fire awareness among whole communities, when children share the lessons they have learned with their parents, families and neighbors.

‘Fire Free Goes to the Movies’, also known as The Movie Night Program, sees villagers being invited to watch popular movies in a central communal space, with fire awareness videos being played before and between movies to spread key messages.

Meanwhile, ‘Fire Free Religious Leaders’ engages local religious leaders of various faiths to share fire awareness messages with their respective communities.

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