The arrival of winter brings an additional concern to agricultural activity. The combination of low temperatures, dry air and reduced rainfall form a favorable scenario for the occurrence of fires. In order to control risks and minimize environmental impacts, BP Bunge Bioenergia, one of the largest sugarcane processors in Brazil, will invest, by 2024, R$30 million in its fire prevention and firefighting program.
Organized in the pillars of Preventive Practice, Rapid Detection, Agile Combat and Safe Actions, the initiatives include the acquisition and maintenance of equipment and materials, fleet renewal, availability, training, regular training and management of local teams. The company also started internal and external prevention campaigns that will be carried out from July to September, to ensure the safety and awareness of employees and the communities where it operates.
“Most of the occurrences are still related to human action, which, even involuntarily, can cause fires”, says Rogério Bremm, agricultural director at BP Bunge Bioenergia. “Collective awareness is one of the most effective forms of prevention, especially in agricultural and rural areas”.
Allied to the communication work, the company has invested in technology, which is increasingly present at all stages, from prevention to combat. In detection, the company’s 11 units have a satellite monitoring system, which, connected to SmartLog, the logistics center for agricultural management located in São Paulo (SP), sends risk alerts. Another form of identification is through observation towers equipped with high definition cameras, a system already in operation at the Pedro Afonso (TO) unit and which will be extended until the end of the year to the Moema (SP), Guariroba (SP) and Ituiutaba (MG) units . The other units will have the system until 2024.
Technological solutions are also on the battle line. The 95 fire trucks are equipped with automated water jets, controlled by the operator using a joystick from inside the cabin, which prevents the firefighter from being exposed. The fleet also has 15 water trucks and nine tanker trucks, a structure that serves all units and is available to the 920 trained firefighters.
In addition to the threat to the safety of employees and local communities, fires bring economic and environmental damage. “The fire in the sugarcane fields reduces the sugar content of the plants, eliminates the straw, organic material used to protect and recompose the soil, as well as part of the biomass used in the cogeneration of electric energy”, explains Rogério Bremm. “It is worth noting that 100% of the sugarcane harvest at BP Bunge’s mills is mechanized and, for this reason, we never use fire in the management of plantations”.
BP Bunge has programs that include the classification and assessment of risk areas. The information is obtained from a periodically updated database, which details the occurrences and assists in decision making. The teams work on preventive actions such as the regular cleaning of areas close to highways, carriageways and firebreaks, among others.
In the agricultural area, the units have advanced fire-fighting posts with firefighters on duty with fire trucks and other equipment, ready for emergency displacement, carried out with the support of an online navigation system to reach the service areas more quickly.
How can you do your part?
A large part of fires is still associated with the inappropriate action of some people and, therefore, everyone’s contribution is important:
- Do not burn garbage or dry leaves, dispose of it in an appropriate place;
- Never throw cigarette butts on the side of the road;
- Avoid lighting fires. A spark is enough for the fire to spread;
- Do not release balloons. It is a crime provided for in law 9.605/98;
- Dispose of glasses and cans in the correct way, their exposure to the sun or heat in contact with dry leaves can create a flame;
- Beware of candles, torches, lanterns and stoves;
- Check residential electrical installations to avoid short circuits.
In case of fire, call the Fire Department by emergency number 193.