MIRI: The state may see more watchtowers and tube wells built on peat soils, which will be activated during dry spells to prevent fire.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said this would be one of the measures to be taken into consideration to prevent or reduce the chances of peat soil fires.
“Our main strategy to prevent fire especially during the dry season is by building tube wells and watchtowers. With this, we hope to be able to detect early warning of smoke within an area and come up with various immediate actions to ensure that the fire will not spread and reach a critical level,” he told reporters during a visit to the watchtower in Tudan yesterday.
Uggah, who is also the State Disaster Management Committee chairman, emphasised that the watchtower should always be manned by capable staff to ensure that whenever smoke is detected, immediate actions will be taken.
The visit was to look at the functions and operations of the watchtower and well tube in preparation for the dry season, which is expected to hit the state soon especially here, which always experiences extensive forest fires every year.
The watchtower was built in December 2010 as a look-out point for areas in Kuala Baram within a radius of 15km to detect peat fire. It also facilitates the Fire and Rescue Department and other enforcement agencies to respond promptly.
Meanwhile, the tube well was built in 2009 and up to now, a total of 14 tube wells have been constructed throughout the state – 10 in Kuala Baram, two in Banting and two in Peian, Mukah with a capacity of 50 cubic metres per hour and a depth of 30 to 150 metres.
This tube well was built to moisten peat soils and raise groundwater levels especially during the dry season or in the event of no rain for seven days.
At the same time, it also serves as a drainage system around the peat soils that have check dams for the Fire and Rescue Department to control and eradicate fire.
“The main purpose of all these constructions is to ensure the fire in these areas can be controlled so as not to spread into a fire which will then produce haze,” Uggah explained.
He reminded landowners here to control and put out any fire they spot in light of the recent haze problem.
“They should also abide by the agreed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) implemented by the State Disaster Management Committee and must play their role to prevent fire which has been happening in Miri every year,” he added.
During the visit, Miri Fire and Rescue Department chief Law Poh Kiong related the chronology of forest fires that took place in Miri, especially in Kuala Baram area, for the past five years.
State Disaster Management Committee Miri officials who were present listed various initiatives being carried out to deal with forest fires and combat the haze in Miri primarily caused by peat (soil), open burning and trans-boundary wind.
Minister of Rural Electricity and Water Supply Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau, Miri Resident Sherina Hussaini and Miri district officer Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusuf as well as officials from the state Department of Environment, and Department of Minerals and Geoscience were also present.