About 100 people, including caretakers and monks from various monastic institutions were trained on fire hazard in Trashigang this week.

Organised by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), the participants were introduced to key safety measures to minimise the impacts of disaster and were taught to assess the prevailing hazards and vulnerabilities at their respective institutions.

With monastic institutions vulnerable to disasters especially fire hazards, DDM first initiated the training in 2012, according to the officials.

DDM officiating chief programme officer, Sangay Dawa, said that earthquake, fire hazards, flash floods and windstorms were some of the common disasters cited by the participants.

The sessions included awareness on prevailing hazards in the country, vulnerability, and identifying participants’ capacities to respond to disasters. “They are taught how to prepare, respond and to mitigate disaster related issues in the future.”

Theoretical lessons were followed by practical sessions where participants were involved in fighting fire hazards.

Sangay Dawa said that lack of systematic approach while responding to disasters leads to confusion and casualties. “We need to have different groups with specific responsibilities during times of disaster.”

He said that is the reason why DDM expects participants to develop a template consisting of all the statistics regarding the respective lhakhangs or dzongs, which will help them, establish a systematic approach.

A participant, Kuenga, who is a lhakhang caretaker, said there were no risk mitigation or safety measures put in place in his community. “Although the lhakhang that I look after is very old and the chances of it catching fire is high, we never thought of having a safety plan,” he said. “Now we understand the importance of having safety plans to minimise damage if a disaster occurs.”

The second batch of participants will begin the four-day training next week. With the completion of the training in Trashigang, DDM would have covered the programme in all dzongkhags.

A draft dzongkhag Disaster Management and Contingency Plan (DMCP) was also completed last week for Trashigang.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang