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By Nancy Nais
SG ASAP, BELAGA, Dec 9: After decades of wishing upon a star for a fire station and worrying about longhouse fires, Sg Asap folk finally received the best pre-Christmas news today — Belaga will have a fire station!
Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) Malaysia director-general Datuk Mohd Hamdan Wahid told some 300 Orang Ulus here today that the federal government recently approved a Grade D fire station for Belaga.
The news was greeted with loud cheers and claps from those present with many relieved faces seen.
The proposed Belaga fire station will be operated by two to three officers together with the Bomba community.
Speaking at the handing over of 200 fire extinguishers and 50 self-contained smoke detectors to 15 Bomba community groups at Uma Lahanan, Hamdan said the proposed station would cater to basic fire and rescue operations in the area.
“The Bomba community firefighting squad can expedite the process and response by carrying out early rescue measures while waiting for firefighters to arrive,” he said.
These community groups are an essential part of Bomba, Hamdan said, as they had shown positive and strong impact when it comes to longhouse fires in the last four years.
“They managed to save four longhouses from being razed to the ground because they were the first respondents to arrive.
“The four longhouses are Rumah Johnson Jangau, Rumah Jarek Kelambu, Rumah Linggi Belajak and, recently, Rumah Egang Sami,” he said.
Hamdan also encouraged the spirit of volunteerism in the community by urging them to set up more volunteer firefighting squads.
He acknowledged that Sg Asap had the most and largest number of longhouses not just in Sarawak or Malaysia but in South East Asia.
Since Sarawak is so huge and the majority of its communities are living in rural areas, the department had requested the federal government to allocate more posts for volunteer firefighters, equipment, vehicles and other necessities.
Currently, the department has 209 stations across the country.
“We are unable to build a fire station in every area. Even a fully equipped category D station will cost at least RM8 million, not including full-time firefighters manning the station and other monthly expenses,” he said.
If the department really wants to cover the whole of Malaysia, they need at least 800 stations, which is why the Bomba community and volunteers fit into the equation nicely. — DayakDaily