President Joko Widodo heads to Jambi to monitor the province's haze conditions. (Antara Photo/Wahdi Septiawan)

BNPB Calls for TNI and Police Aid to Fight Forest Fires


SEPTEMBER 08, 2015

Jakarta. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency has called on the military and police to assign their personnel to help fight the haze crisis in several provinces in the country, the spokesman said on Tuesday.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the agency known as the BNPB, said in a statement that the current management of forest fires included water bombing from the air, on-land hot spot extinguishing, law enforcement, and health services.

"It needs [more] efforts by mobilizing the Indonesian Military [TNI]and police personnel massively if we want to handle forest fires," he said in a statement sent to the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday.

Sutopo said that during the 2013 and 2014 fire seasons, there were 3,000 TNI and police personnel assigned to help combat fires, conduct patrols, law enforcement and guarding of fire-prone areas.

"Additional TNI and police officers from Jakarta will be effective in helping the regional task force," he said. Sumatra and Kalimantan areas are still dealing with forest fires burning out of control, the spokesman said.

Based on satellite imagery on Tuesday at 5 p.m there were 1,317 hot spots in Sumatra and Kalimantan. Kalimantan suffered the most hot spots with 346 in West Kalimantan, 102 in South Kalimantan, 744 in Central Kalimantan and 55 in East Kalimantan. The satellite also detected three hot spots in Sumatra's Jambi province, 17 in Bangka-Belitung, three in Lampung and 46 in South Sumatra.

Sutopo said no hot spots were detected in Riau, but the visibility range in the provincial capital Pekanbaru was only 200 meters to 500 meters in the morning and increased to 1,500 meters by 4 p.m. as the haze let up. Other areas in Riau province also reported poor visibility.

The air quality in affected areas is still at unhealthy to dangerous levels, Sutopo said.

Current BNPB data show that 6,287 hectares of land in Riau have been razed as of Monday. The local government has shut schools as haze from fires in Jambi and South Sumatra settles over Riau.

In Jambi, visibility at the Sultan Thaha airport was 700 meters on Tuesday morning, 1,000 meters at noon and decreased to 800 meters in the afternoon.

Sutopo said the visibility range would generally worsen between nightfall and daybreak. Jambi's air quality is at unhealthy levels, with officials ordering all schools shut temporarily.