DRY PEATLANDS CATCH FIRE EASILY and when they do the peat burns under the ground and this makes it challenging to extinguish the fire. We interviewed Syahrial, a fire fighter with the Masyarakat Peduli Api community-based fire brigade. He argues in favor of pumping underground water to fight the fires instead of using large water trucks.
Our community fire brigade has about 30 active members and ten on stand-by. The depth of the wells here is about 12 to 20 meters. When drilling a well we look near the source of the fire spot. The main problem is the water source to put out the fire. But now we have new technology to drill wells capable of 4–5 liters of water per second.
Syahrial explains: If we compare our method with a fire-fighting truck, the firetruck has a capacity of up to 5,000 liters of water. It takes half an hour to fill a tank with 5,000 liters. It takes another hour to drive from headquarters to the fire and half hour to water, so two hours in total for 5,000 liters. But with our drilled well capacity at around 4- 5 liters per second in one hour we can deliver almost as much water as four firetrucks.
So fighting fires in the peatland with drilled wells is very effective, because if we wait for the firetruck the distance to go is far, and the roads are inadequate. So drilled wells are more effective. The worst fire here was in 2011, most of our village was burned that year. In March, from March to August. Almost every fire here happens in quite a large scale. In 2011, 2014, and 2015 we were visited by government officials and the president.
Thank God our people now start to better understand the dangers of forest fires that destroy the peatland. Our people now understand this and they are no longer burn their fields to clear the land.