A fire that spread on a steep, rocky terrain in the Madukkarai forest range of the Coimbatore Forest Division in April last year kept the Forest Department staff on their toes for a week. But the Department will be well equipped to face such a situation during the upcoming fire season as a District Forest Fire Control Centre for the division is getting ready in Coimbatore.
Forest Minister M. Mathiventhan is closely monitoring the establishment of the centre for which a two-storeyed building has been constructed on the premises of the office of District Forest Officer.
S. Ramasubramanian, Conservator of Forests and Field Director of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve, said the fire control centre would have dedicated trained staff and equipment for firefighting in forests.
“The team will undergo training in all aspects of fire control. In short, the centre will take care of logistics, manpower and equipment required for firefighting in forests,” he said. According to him, the list of firefighting equipment comprises 23 items, which are being purchased.
The fire control centre will have a dedicated telephone line which can be contacted to inform about forest fire. Forest Department staff attached to the seven forest ranges in the Coimbatore Forest Division will also have to contact the centre in case of forest fire for assistance and coordination. Already, the Department has procured some firefighting equipment including six sets of blowers, grass cutters, sprayers, and chain saws.
Mr. Mathiventhan is expected to inaugurate the centre, after the appointment of a dedicated team and the procurement of all the required equipment.
A total of about 200 hectare of forest was affected by the fire that broke out in Madukkarai forest range last year. As the fire was reported in a rocky terrain, only dry grass and bamboo clumps below a cliff were gutted.