Fire is a major hazard during the dry season in newly established plantations, especially if located adjacent to cogonal areas. The presence of dry weeds and cover crops in a plantation during the dry season increases the possibility of fire. Aside from intentional sabotage, a carelessly thrown cigarette butt can easily cause a major conflagration in such areas. To minimize the possibility of fire from within the plantation, incorporate the dry grass or cover crops thru cultivation.
NATURAL FIRE BREAKS
Any area free from vegetation will deter the spread of fire. Examples of these include streams, canals and roads. The removal/minimization of vegetation beside these natural firebreaks during the dry season will increase their ability to contain a fire.
These are 10 m wide vegetation-free strips usually established at the borders of the plantation and at given intervals inside the plantation. Fire lines at the borders can be established using tillage equipment or by controlled fires started during the early part of the dry season. The second option is quite risky and should be done by experienced personnel.
Fire lines and natural fire breaks are the first line of defense in case of fire spreading from nearby areas. People should be stationed at the outermost fire lines, ready to beat off the small fires being initiated in the property by sparks coming from the conflagration.
If a major fire is detected early enough and if the wind changes direction towards the fire, a controlled counter fire can be initiated outside the borders of the plantation so that it will spread towards the major fire. The spread of the major fire towards the plantation can be effectively stopped in this manner. The counter-fire can also be initiated on the upper slopes of a hill on the other side of which is the spreading fire.