Tuesday, February 17, 2009

autumn in singapore?

autumn has come to singapore? no, this is the aftermath of a vegetation fire. nowadays, they use a bigger/longer word for bush fire. during our kampong days, when our settlement was surrounded by shrubs, lallangs and grassland, bush fires were common occurences during the dry months.

most times, we were not bothered by it and just let it blazed away. only when it threatened to encroach on areas near to where houses were found, did the people summon the fire brigade. usually before the firemen arrived on the scene, the kampong people would have got into the act.

we would break branches from small trees and used them to beat the fire, to smother the flame and thus prevented the fire from spreading. the firemen were quite happy to have us working side by side wth them.

those days, the firemen were equipped with a canvas flap with a long handle which they used to whip (out) the fire. some of them carried portable water-containers, like those used by the mosquito disinfectant men, to spray water on the fire.

last month, the singapore civil defence force (scdf) recorded 182 bush fires - the highest figure for the month of january in the past decade.

february could well set another record as firemen have already put out 106 bush fires as of friday.

this brings the total so far this year to 288, or two-thirds the 426 cases over the whole of last year.

preventing vegetation fires

do not throw lighted cigarette butts or matches onto grass patches/fields and rubbish dumps.

do not dispose rubbish or unwanted items at grass areas or vacant lands. rubbish dumps provide additional sources of fuel to sustain fires.

home owners with grass compounds should keep grass trimmed and watered. dead leaves should be properly disposed of.

incense papers should be burnt in incense burners. these burners should be placed on flat open ground at a safe distance from combustible materials.

after the prayer session, one should check around for smouldering incense in the vicinity and ensure that it is completely extinguished with water.


ordinary guy said...

From green to "Brown Brown Grass Of Home". Very hot weather nowadays.

yg said...

it was reported that 95% of the fires were caused by people.

Annette said...

In the kampong where I grew up, there was a large patch of lallang which, every couple of years, caught fire it seemed spontaneously.

A couple of days after one of these fires I went over the area with my brother and sisters. I was astonished to find remains of homes, all razed to the ground twenty years earlier, by Japanese bombing raids. The layout of the floors showed quite clearly where one room ended and the next began. The kitchen areas were the easiest to spot because there were still bowls stacked up on concrete ledges which had been shelves. There were miniature bottles of cocacola which my sister forbade me to keep. There was a lot of broken kitchen artefacts and broken glass.

It was this glass which magnified the effect of the sunlight thus setting alight the lallang around it.

Now some 40 years on I still recall that archaeological walkabout as a truly marvellous one, but now with enormous sympathy for the victims who lost their homes and perhaps their lives as well.

yg said...

hi annette, you should have kept that miniature cocacola bottles; they are much sought after now. where i lived, during the hot, dry months of april and june, lallang fires were common occurences. sometimes the fire brigade was summoned but most of the times, the kampong folks tried to check the spread themselves.