In some regions of Brazil, winter is characterized by long periods of low rainfall and dry air, which increases the risk of fires. In sugarcane plantations, these episodes tend to increase significantly at this time of year, and this is when the entire sugar-energy sector turns even more to raising public awareness of the issue, since fires can have significant environmental impacts, including the release of greenhouse gases, damage to biodiversity and the generation of health problems related to air quality, as well as causing economic losses.
As one of Brazil’s leaders in the ethanol, bioelectricity and sugar markets, BP Bunge Bioenergia has an extensive fire prevention and firefighting program, structured around the pillars of Effective Prevention, Rapid Detection, Agile Combat and Safe Action, called Brigade 4.0, the results of which have already proved to be quite significant: in the last two years, an average reduction of 52% in areas burned per hectare and 50% in the number of fires in areas close to the group’s 11 mills has been achieved. The company’s investments in these initiatives amount to BRL 30 million by 2024.
For BP Bunge Bioenergia’s agricultural director, Rogério Bremm, the reduction in the number of fires and burnt areas is due to a combination of prevention, detection, combating and employee training strategies. “The positive results confirm that the investments being made in a series of vital prevention practices, in camera monitoring, as well as in training and detailed action procedures, have made our fire detection and firefighting much more efficient. It should also be noted that harvesting is completely mechanized at the company’s units and we don’t use fire as a form of management,” explains Bremm.
Prevention and Technology
In addition to carrying out actions that include the purchase and maintenance of equipment and materials, fleet renewal, training, regular training and management of local teams, BP Bunge Bioenergia carries out internal and external awareness campaigns in order to maximize the safety of employees and community members.
The company is also investing in technological resources aimed at detecting fires through a satellite monitoring system, which warns of favorable weather conditions for the spread of fire outbreaks, as well as the use of high-definition cameras in observation towers located at strategic points for the rapid detection of fires, all monitored online by the Agricultural Fire Center. This camera technology has already been installed at the Pedro Afonso (TO), Itumbiara (GO), Ituiutaba (MG), Moema and Guariroba (SP) units; in July this system will be installed at the Tropical (GO) unit and in August at the Ouroeste (SP) and Santa Juliana (MG) units. By 2024, the other units will have the resource.
In terms of the firefighting structure, the company has 97 fire trucks, which have automated water jets and are controlled by the operator via joystick inside the cab, avoiding exposure for the firefighter. This equipment is located in the agricultural areas of the units in firefighting outposts, ready for emergency movements, with the support of an online navigation system to get to the service areas more quickly.
There are also 16 water trucks, 12 tankers and 1,050 employees trained as firefighters. In addition, the company has mapped risk areas, carries out preventive actions such as regular cleaning of areas near highways, tracks and firebreaks, among others.
How you can do your bit?
A large number of fires are still linked to the inappropriate actions of certain people, which is why everyone’s contribution is important:
- Do not burn garbage or dry leaves, dispose of them in an appropriate place;
- Never throw cigarette butts by the side of the road;
- Avoid lighting fires. It only takes a spark for a fire to spread;
- Do not release balloons. It is a crime under Law 9.605/98;
- Dispose of glass and cans properly, as exposure to the sun or heat in contact with dry leaves can create a flame;
- Be careful with candles, torches, lamps and stoves;
- Check home electrical installations to avoid short circuits.
Another very important guideline is that people or vehicles should not pass through places where there is smoke or fire. These elements impair visibility and can cause serious accidents. In such situations, always look for a safe place.
In the event of a fire, call the Fire Brigade on emergency number 193.