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By Nancy Nais
BELAGA, April 2: Communities here finally breathed a sigh of relief after 35 years when the long awaited fire station began operations yesterday.
Situated right in the heart of Belaga township at Jalan Dian Ding, the RM4.5 million fire station sits on a 0.42-acre piece of land, some 205km from Bintulu town.
When met by DayakDaily, Belaga community leader councillor Abu Talip said the fire station was something that the people here had wanted for so many years.
“We are happy because before this, the nearest fire station is in Bintulu, about three hours away. So this is our dream comes true with the opening of our own fire station here.
“With sufficient facilities and manpower, it will be able to provide assistance during emergency situations, not just (in the case of) fire against property or lives but also other cases such as search and rescue (SAR) including animals, accidents and many more. That is why a fire station is a necessity,” he asserted.
Sarawak currently has 35 fire stations in seven zones.
Sibu zone has the most with 11, followed by Kuching (six), Samarahan (five), Miri and Bintulu (four each), Sri Aman (three) and Limbang (two).
The Belaga fire station is under Bintulu zone.
Completed over a period of 18 months, the handing over ceremony involving Public Works Department (JKR) and Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) was held with standard operating procedure (SOP) compliance on site.
Thanking the elected representatives Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong, Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang and the local communities for their patience, Sarawak Bomba director PKPjB Khirudin Drahman said it certainly brings relief and peace of mind to locals.
“It has been a long time and many attempts for the department in trying to improve their services here especially when Belaga is located in a remote area. There were many fire cases here but it was very difficult for the Bintulu fire station to respond.
“Now that we are here, our next step is to improve public awareness and help to build a safer Belaga community,” he said, adding that firefighters will not only cover fire incidences but also other cases which involve lives and property such as accidents or search and rescue oprations.
He assured the local folks here that every emergency case received will be attended to regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.
While the department plans to set up a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Belaga, he also encouraged the locals especially those from longhouses to set up Bomba Komuniti as first responders.
Although the Belaga fire station is located right in the township’s centre and manned by 10 full time personnel and 18 auxiliary firefighters, Khirudin asserted that there are many longhouses scattered in the remote district, hence they would need as many first responders as possible.
Sarawak’s topography, coverage and accessibility have given Bomba Sarawak a lot of challenges, prompting the department to ‘think outside the box’ for their operations.
It takes them up to three hours or more to reach certain locations and hence, they need the locals to help set up voluntary fire squads and community emergency response teams in rural areas where there are no fire stations to handle emergencies. — DayakDaily