KUCHING, May 29: Whenever a prominent festival approaches, there is usually eager anticipation in the air with celebrations ready to erupt.
For the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba), festive seasons can also mean ‘disaster’ as per past records because the number of people killed in road accidents, fire or drowning often increase during this period.
With the upcoming Gawai Dayak and Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations, the department’s deputy director of operations Mohammad Hamdan Wahid advised members of the public to rejoice but always be mindful to prioritise safety and security.
“As we are busy celebrating, travelling on the road or river, cooking at home or leaving your house empty for a few days, stay vigilant in any case; that should never be ignored,” Mohammad Hamdan said at a get-together organised by Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA), Sarawak Energy Berhad, and Pusat Latihan Proaktif with Bomba personnel.
He said during festive seasons, Bomba together with other relevant enforcement agencies will combine forces by stationing their personnel at several hot spots or accident-prone areas one week before and one week after the festival days.
He said it is rather typical for Malaysians to have a general lackadaisical attitude towards matters such as fire safety.
“One of the main causes of residential fire is carelessness such as not turning off electrical appliances and the kitchen stove, failing to put out cigarette butts, and children playing with fire or firecrackers. Other common causes also include electrical overloading, faulty electrical appliances and cooking left unattended,” Mohammad Hamdan added.
State Bomba director Nor Hisham Mohammad also said the department has been conducting safety awareness programmes and one of them is focusing on school students.
“This is a continuous programme, whereby we will always remind them, especially the rural folks who frequently travel via rivers, to use life jackets. I also want to emphasise on life jackets for small boat owners especially those owning longboats in the villages. Whether they are adults or children, able or unable to swim, please wear life jackets as river currents are unpredictable. Don’t take things for granted.
“As for long boat operators, they must be skilled in handling the boat and knowledgeable with the river’s currents. With unpredictable weather and strong currents or rapids, they must know how to handle the situation well,” Nor Hisham said.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Hamdan express his gratitude for the contributions and sacrifices made by every member of the department in various aid missions, which encompassed fire fighting, rescue and humanitarian missions.
“Indeed, the safety and welfare of the people are a top priority. Even during festive seasons, every time the emergency bell rings, it indicates the start of the department’s task and each time, they will give their best to the people.
“The department will not be static or complacent. All emergency calls will be attended to in a quick and fast manner by our firefighters. Every minute is of the essence to save lives or properties,” he said, adding that the firefighters are ‘ready to serve’.
Sarawak is unique and different from Peninsular Malaysia, due to its geographical characteristics and large number of rivers.
When it comes to festive seasons especially Gawai Dayak, many Sarawakians will return to their villages which are only accessible by river.
“Boat operators must play their role in passengers’ safety, especially now when the weather is very unpredictable. Members of the public must also do the same. We don’t want tragedies to happen when it is supposed to be a joyful trip back to their kampung,” Mohammad Hamdan said. — DayakDaily