‘Eco-volunteers need more knowledge on firefighting’

‘Eco-volunteers need more knowledge on firefighting’

Fire and Emergency Services personnel demonstrate techniques of firefighting, at Bandipur on Thursday. Adjunct faculty at Karnataka Forest Academy, also retired assistant conservator of forests, S Chandrashekar is seen.

Forest department officials and wildlife conversationalists say that a large number of volunteers are keen to protect forests and wildlife, but, they need knowledge on tackling untoward incidents such as forest fire.

Thus, professionals addressed the volunteers, enthusiasts of nature, wildlife and forest, during a workshop on forest firefighting, organised by United Conservation Movement, in association with Karnataka Forest department and Fire and Emergency Services department, here on Thursday. The two-day workshop aims to train eco-activists, who are committed to protect the forests.

Conservator of Forests and Bandipur Project Tiger Director T Balachandra said that during the recent fire, the department got huge response from the people. "Nearly, 600 volunteers reached the forest to douse the fire. But, many of them lacked basic firefighting techniques. Many even feared to go near the fire, due to lack of skills and training," he said.

"Several people, from various parts of the state, came forward to donate, but, they did not know what materials to provide. We received loads of watermelon, which was more than sufficient, he said.

He appreciated the efforts of United Conservation Movement to educate volunteers. The department is planning to train 300 volunteers, the Director said.

Geographical area

According to managing trustee of Wildlife Conservation Foundation, also honorary Wildlife Warden, Rajkumar, the best thing that the volunteers can do is support local youths and staff, as they are well aware about the geographical area. The volunteers can work as backup teams, he suggested.

The volunteers are concerned and have knowledge about the forest and wildlife, but, firefighting needs certain skills. “Fire is like a devil. It will not spare any one. Man can do nothing without the help of wind and nature,” he said.

Joseph Hoover of United Conservation Movement said that there are many volunteers, but, they need training to fight fire. "The movement aims to prepare the volunteers with necessary skills. We plan to organise similar training programmes at Bhadra Tiger Reserve, Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary and other places," he said.

Chamarajanagar District Fire Officer K P Naveen Kumar and adjunct faculty at Karnataka Forest Academy, also retired assistant conservator of forests, S Chandrashekar were present.