By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Jan 23: The Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) Sarawak wants to break down barriers and improve public perception towards firefighters and rescue personnel by reaching out to the community with an open-door policy this year.
Its director, Khirudin Drahman, emphasised the need to change the way the public sees Bomba as it would have an impact on the whole Sarawak team.
“People think our officers only work when there are fire and rescue cases. And when the gates and doors of the station are closed, our officers only eat and sleep,” he told a press conference after officiating at the Bomba Sarawak 2019 annual assembly at Bomba Tabuan Jaya here today.
“This year, we are taking a people-approach in our programmes to provide interactive experiences and engagement with the community so they will have a better idea of the main duties of a full-time firefighter.”
The Bomba stations, he added, would throw their doors open over the weekend if there were requests for tours of its facilities and equipment as well as for children’s birthday parties.
“The station chiefs and zone enforcers are permitted to open up their respective fire station to become a community learning centre during the weekend if there are requests, especially for children,” he explained.
“But we hope parents will allow us to conduct a 30-minute fire safety and education programme for the children.”
He reiterated that one of the programmes called ‘Children Fire and Safety Club’ or ‘3K Club’, which was also conducted in Sarawak to teach children how to think quick and react in fire situations, has been very successful when it was first implemented in Kuala Lumpur.
Earlier in his speech, Khirudin said the year 2018 recorded a marked increase in emergency calls involving rescue operations compared to 5,109 in 2017.
“In 2018, Bomba Sarawak attended to 5,807 rescue calls, 2,388 calls on fire incident, 7,703 special service calls and 16 fake calls,” he revealed, adding that the cases varied, including domestic and industrial accidents, workplace accidents, road accidents, natural disasters as well as recreational accidents.
As such, he said that the department had planned several programmes that might need to be fine-tuned and improved to ensure it could reach target groups in raising greater awareness and send reminders about fire-related hazards.
“Petronas, Shell and the state government have also indicated preparedness to come together to fund and support our reaching out to the community programme that will stress about fire safety awareness, especially in longhouses,” he added while hoping to see a significant drop in statistics by end of the year.
He also expressed appreciation and thanks to all media practitioners for providing inspiring and positive coverage reports on its activities that shed light on the professionalism of the firefighters and rescue personnel.
Events that happened and were viralled by citizens, he observed, at times carried negative elements that have an impact on Bomba but the positive reports in the media very much helped to stabilise the mood and remotivate officers.
At the ceremony today, there was a presentation of certificates of appreciation to 22 media practitioners as recognition of their commitment to ethical journalism and strong support for Bomba.
Deputy state director Mohd Zaki Omar and Bomba Sarawak assistant director in charge of operation Tiong Ling Hii were present. — DayakDaily