12 April 2012

Don't Let Their Death Go in Vain

Last Sunday afternoon's forest fire cost heavily on two families and the police force and I join the nation in offering my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. But I urge them not to let their death go in vain. The questions that arise with that unfortunate incident should not be cremated with their bodies. For once we should understand the meaning of such death, we should confess that it could have been avoided. Let's stop agreeing that death happens because of destiny.

Fire Chopper in Action
It's time we question our ability and capacity to firefight. Hundreds of people are mobilized without relevant equipment to chase the razing fire uphill, which is not only foolish but dangerous. It's our luck that we didn't lose  many lives so far, but we must be the only nation who so much prides in its forest cover and haven't done our best to protect it. We can't fight forest fire with branches and twigs in the hands of exhausted men. We can't drive our fire engines uphill through the forest- they breakdown even on roads.
We don't need scientists to think about a solution, a few think-tanks on Twitter were already discussing about Fire Choppers, which is already being used across the world to battle forest fire. If we really mean forest is our biggest assert then we should invest in protecting it with best resources in the world. The cost of trees we lost so far could have purchased enough fire choppers- it would be wiser to safe the trees than to plant saplings.
The bad, The Ugly
It's also time we question the efficiency of the fire engines and other vehicles our firefighter use, such as the DCM truck that has already run over 200,000 Km. For that matter even the public buses. How many accident must we see, before we realize that some types of vehicles are not safe at all. Theoretically, service vehicles can't run over seven years (see Bhutan Observer) but who care about it?
The ugly TATA and Eicher buses are still polluting the air and beauty of the nation. Coaster buses have proven their worth- both in safety and comfort- and we should be insisting on importing them, and the same applies to Fire Engines. The big ugly ones are as old as me and takes hours in preparation before heading for action, and during the operation it fails suddenly. This brings the moral of the firefighters down, because despite all the bravery and effort they land up being insulted by the onlookers. However, the smaller fire engines work magic with instant-operation capability, and with all logic we should be getting more of those. But so far, as things go, we are still clinging on to those old one that we know will arrive only after the show is over.
The hero who comes after the show is over
In some countries, incidents like this lead to a lot of relative investigations and then reforms, here we cremate the bodies with a lot of respect and that's it. What shall we change first?


  1. Chopper-based Air Force is absolutely doable. I said "air force" because the airline option was done away with in favour of fixed wing services we have now - Tashi Air & Druk Air domestic.

    Just got some rates from people in the industry.

    Start off cost - 32 crores
    Running cost - 6 crore

    If we stop import of govt pool vehicles for a year, budget is met from there.

  2. I like,'it would be wiser to save the trees than to plant saplings.' And I totally agree with, 'The cost of trees we lost so far could have purchased enough fire choppers.'

    Some body or you should raise this and let our leaders hear. If it's doable, the government should do it. What you suggest is not a new idea, many people must have thought about it, may be even the PM himself, but there must be some thing from the government too.

  3. this is mind blowing post thanks for sharing
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  4. There's also some good reasons to talk to biologists. Some times areas need to burn and it's natural and healthy for the forest to do so. It sucks for humans, of course. In California and nationwide we stopped fires all over the place since the turn of the century. Now debris and fallen wood are built up and we have huge, destructive fires. If we have smaller fires that are contained, then fuel builds up more slowly and massive fires happen less often. The really big valuable tress can survive smaller fires and many plants here benefit from some burning....What it is like there? Is there a natural burn cycle when lightning would start fires if humans weren't around? We even have fire crews who go out and cut old wood out and clear brush to prevent fires..but our country loves to throw money at problems and has the money to do so, for now.
    Training and funds for firefighters is so important. Fire fighters are real heroes and need money to do their job well. We have fundraisers around here, big dinners and auctions to help keep fire lookout stations open and to fund local fire departments. They also get a lot of government funding. Are fundraisers done for fire departments there?
    Good luck and I'm sorry for the loss of life people have suffered there.


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