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Eduardo Soares de Almeida

Fire Prevention and Fighting Manager from Bracell-SP


Technology and strategies for firefighting

Issues involving forest fires have gained greater visibility in recent years due to climate change and also the environmental damage they can cause. Due to these impacts, there is a need to evolve more and more with the theme, treating it more quickly and assertively. Currently, forest-based companies are creating areas dedicated to forest protection, improving processes and training people and professionals related to the subject.

There is great progress, but it can and should be expanded. Companies that are investing in preventing and fighting forest fires are better positioned in the market, standing out in terms of environmental protection, sustainability and competitiveness. These three pillars are extremely important for these companies to attract investments in such a competitive market.

It is necessary to have a broad view of the subject, allowing for operational and strategic gains, synergies and other advantages that may compose the themes of protection and sustainability. Today, we have a strong technological drive proposing solutions that can be implemented in forest fire prevention and combat processes, which range from the automatic detection of fire outbreaks, such as prompt response assistance, resource management, to combating forest fires itself.

Studies are already being carried out for the use of satellites that will cover much wider areas than the cameras used today, but the use is still restricted, and the costs are high. When this technology is widely available on the market, it will be important for companies and professionals to be prepared and open to receiving these tools.

Prevention is much more efficient than fighting, but if we have to fight, we must be well prepared. Therefore, one should not give up preventive actions, with which we are sure of the positive impacts. An example of a strategic prevention and combat plan is the one Bracell has been designing. The company planned its forest fire prevention and combat area thinking about preserving the environment, the well-being of people and the planet, sustainability and the competitiveness of its businesses.

Currently, the company's unit located in the state of São Paulo has approximately 115 qualified people who work fully focused and prepared for interventions, if necessary. The company also invested in and applied training aimed at fighting forest fires, with strategies for action and use of equipment, defensive driving with adapted vehicles, use of helicopters as support and relationship with communities.

Strategically and reiterating one of the company's values, Bracell opted to hire these teams in the municipalities where it has a forestry base, contributing to the development of the communities where its operations operate. Thinking also in a technical way, the company carries out several preventive actions that contribute to operational strategies. Among them, fire risk map, map with the main causes of fire, daily fire risk map, considering weather conditions, operational and strategic indicators and Research and Development on new products and equipment.

As for the physical structure, Bracell installed monitoring towers, with high-resolution cameras that cover 90% of planted forests and conservation areas, in addition to teams aboard 4x4 pickup trucks, equipped with firefighting kits; tanker trucks dedicated to the operation and a helicopter for support; an integrated 24-hour forest monitoring center and drones to help plan operations.

With cameras and teams strategically distributed across regions, after detecting possible fire outbreaks, teams quickly arrive on site. During periods of drought, these teams support activities in the areas of forestry, environment and quality, reinforcing one of the company's premises: “teams that complement each other”. This synergy contributes to greater care and protection of forests and a reduction in operating costs.

In terms of prevention actions, emphasis is given to the Amigos da Floresta Program, active in the São Paulo and Bahia units, with the distribution of kits to the communities where Bracell has operations, with preventive instructions for the prevention of forest fires, the call center monitoring system and the free communication channel between the community and the company.

Through these channels, the community can call and pass on information about fire outbreaks and other situations that may reflect fire risks. The program also provides educational lectures, training with communities, government institutions responsible for conservation areas and indigenous communities, with the implementation of social actions.

In less than a year of operation, it has already been possible to measure positive results, such as a 98% reduction in areas affected by forest fires compared to 2021. Initiatives such as these were recognized by the Brazilian Association for Loss Prevention award as the best case of environmental, social and corporate governance practices and sustainability in the country in 2022, for the company, reinforcing the effort and dedication of all teams involved in preventing and fighting forest fires.

The results attest that this is the way to go. The premise of the present and the future will be guided by new equipment and technologies, but investment in people is the key to compiling effective management in combating and preventing forest fires. In a unified way, the benefit will go far beyond business, generating positive impacts for society as a whole.