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2017 was a successful year for the fire prevention team at APRIL. The annual dry season passed with no major incidents on the company’s own land, and a significant reduction in fire in local communities that are part of the Fire Free Village Program.

But preventing fire – and the haze that affected much of Southeast Asia in 2015 – is a continuous effort, and complacency cannot be allowed to set in.

It’s with that in mind that the company’s fire team is training hard during the wet season so that it is ready for the dry summer months.

The fire prevention team consists of 1,125 full- and part-time staff, each of whom receives at least two weeks training a year, including simulated fires as well as practical and theoretical skills. The crews even trained with special forces from the Indonesian Air Force, learning survival techniques and how to navigate the sometimes harsh jungle environment.

Osserman, Head Assistant of Pelalawan's Forest Protection Estate, said that the main job of the fire team is to prevent fires before they occur.

"The first step we take in addressing fires is to analyze which areas have high fire potential," said Osserman.

"Next, we will make a priority scale, which categorizes which areas are most at risk. In remote areas we set up guardhouses or tents which can be used as bases when patrolling.”

APRIL has invested more than US$6 million in equipping the fire team, and spends US$2 million each year on operating expenses. As well as a large team of people, equipment includes 183 pumps, 1,150 hoses, boats, helicopters and 4x4 vehicles.

The fire prevention team also uses modern technology such as drones and satellites to monitor hotspots – areas of high temperature – that could potentially be fires.