SNAP-Benguet and NPC equip communities with Forest Fire Response Training

SNAP-Benguet and NPC equip communities with Forest Fire Response Training

Simulation of controlling fire from spreading takes place among participants of the Forest Fire Response and Basic First Aid & Life Support training conducted by SNAP-Benguet and NPC. (SNAP-Benguet File Photo)

In recent years, the frequency of forest fires has posed a significant threat to rural communities. These fires, exacerbated by dry conditions, can spread rapidly, and rural communities are susceptible to such incidents. 

To help address this issue and increase the Bokod and Itogon communities’ awareness of the threat of forest fires, SN Aboitiz Power-Benguet (SNAP-Benguet), in partnership with the National Power Corporation (NPC), conducted a three-day training on Forest Fire Response and First Aid & Basic Life Support from February 14-16, 2024.

The training exercises with simulations were facilitated by experienced resource persons from the Bureau of Fire (BFP), NPC-Upper Agno Watershed Area Team (UARWAT), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for residents of Itogon and Bokod, host municipalities of SNAP-Benguet’s Ambuklao and Binga hydroelectric power plants.

Over the course of three days, subject matter experts spoke about the devastating impact of forest fires and led practical training sessions to equip participants with the necessary skills to respond effectively, including basic first aid training.

UARWAT Watershed Management Chief, Forester Benjamin Kimmayong, stressed the importance of adopting an Incident Command System (ICS) and Quick Response Team (QRT) to manage and suppress forest fires which is stipulated in the Community-Based Forest Fire Protection and Management Plan in the Upper Agno Watershed. He said that part of forest fire management is the development of a forest fire incident database and a common operational map incorporating locations of firelines and natural fuel breaks meant to be shared with all stakeholders. He emphasized the negative impact of uncontrolled forest fires on the community and biodiversity.

In a recent report by the Philippine News Agency, more than 20 forest fires have been recorded in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) since January 2024, including those that occurred in the villages of Itogon and Bokod.

Since January, SNAP-Benguet has been coordinating with the local government units of the affected host communities, the BFP, NPC, and other responders on efforts to contain forest fires in the area. As part of its technical agreement with NPC on forest fire protection within the 2.5-kilometer area beginning from the high water mark of the Ambuklao and Binga reservoir, SNAP-Benguet has been monitoring fire suppression activities. The company has also provided assistance such as fuel and food.

Water from the Ambuklao and Binga reservoirs is being drawn for fire suppression activities by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

SNAP Group Chief Operations Officer Mike Hosillos said, “We hope that this training helps create more awareness and enables our communities to take more proactive measures to prevent forest fires. Early detection and containment can help prevent the spread, reduce damage, and reduce the risk of injury and death from fires. SNAP-Benguet, together with our partners in the community, hope to build a collective defense against forest fires, ensuring the safety of people, livelihood, and the environment.” # (PR)

About SNAP-Benguet:

SN Aboitiz Power-Benguet (SNAP-Benguet) is a joint venture of Scatec and Aboitiz Power Corporation (AP).

Scatec is a leading renewable energy solutions provider, accelerating access to reliable and affordable clean energy in emerging markets. As a long-term player, they develop, build, own, and operate renewable energy plants, with 4.6 GW in operation and under construction across four continents today. They are committed to growing their renewable energy capacity, delivered by their 800 passionate employees and partners who are driven by a common vision of ‘Improving our Future’. Scatec is headquartered in Oslo, Norway, and listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ‘SCATC’.

AP is the holding company of the Philippines-based Aboitiz Group’s investments in power generation, distribution, and retail electricity services. It advances businesses and communities by providing reliable and ample power supply at a reasonable and competitive price, and with the least adverse effects on the environment and host communities.

SNAP-Benguet owns and operates the 112.5-MW Ambuklao and 140-MW Binga hydroelectric power plants in Benguet. The non-power components such as dams, reservoirs, and spillways are owned and managed by the government. In line with established protocols, SNAP operates the spillway gates during normal conditions and the government takes over operations during extraordinary conditions.