Kanowit lad among those recognised for showing courage under fire by Bomba Sarawak

Alexsidi with his parents Wifed Andras (right) and Rabai Jua after attending Bomba Sarawak annual parade ceremony.

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By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Feb 5: Hailed a hero for saving his longhouse from a fiery tragedy recently, Alexsidi Wifed, 14, is considering firefighting as a future career.

A kitchen fire could have spread and razed down the 18-door Rh Andreas in Nanga Lipus, Kanowit on Dec 15, 2019 if it was not for Alexsidi who immediately grabbed a 9kg fire extinguisher and attempted to put the fire out.

The shy but friendly lad said that although he was greatly afraid at the time, he knew he had to do something because his parents and the rest of the longhouse folks were in a state of panic.

“I was very scared, but I remembered what I learnt in school before. We were taught how to use a fire extinguisher by the firefighters who came to my school for a fire awareness programme. The moment I recalled all the words ‘abang bomba’ taught me, my fear somehow disappeared. I immediately grabbed the nearest fire extinguisher. It was very heavy though,” the slim teenager told DayakDaily today.

Heavy or not, Alexsidi decided to go ahead and try. By the time he returned to the kitchen where the fire started, it had spread upwards towards the ceiling.

“When I saw how huge the fire was, I became scared for a few seconds but I told myself I must fight the fear and fight this fire. At the same time, I was fumbling with the fire extinguisher. Somehow I was unable to get it started. Trying not to waste more time, I dumped the first fire extinguisher and rushed out again to find another one. I remember we had a few in our longhouse.

“However, the second fire extinguisher was not functioning either. So I ran out again to get another. By the time I returned to the fire scene, it had spread next door. Luckily the third fire extinguisher was functioning and I managed to douse the fire completely,” he said, adding how fulfilling it was that he could save his family and longhouse folks from losing their homes.

Thanks to Alexsidi’s quick thinking, the fire only destroyed about 10 per cent of the kitchen area belonging to two ‘pintu’, or doors. No injuries were reported.

Proud of their son’s bravery, Wifed Andras, 47, and Rabai Jua, 38, also thanked the department for having such fire awareness programme in schools.

“It has proven to be beneficial. While our whole longhouse was panicking, only Alexsidi had such preparedness and was brave enough to fight the fire,” Wifed said.

Alexsidi also thanked the Sarawak Fire and Rescue department (Bomba) for awarding him with a certificate of appreciation today and the Kanowit firefighters for teaching him how to use fire extinguishers, or alat pemadam api (APAs).

He was among the three recipients who received the certificate of appreciation for their bravery at Bomba Sarawak annual parade ceremony today.

In congratulating Alexsidi, Bomba Sarawak director Khirudin Drahman said the department has been emphasising on their awareness programme to educate people from all ages on fire safety, prevention and what to do in the event of a fire.

“That is why it is important for longhouses to have APAs and its residents to know how to use them. This is crucial especially in rural areas where fire stations are located far away from villages.”

Furthermore, all APAs have serial numbers and expiry dates, and it is the owner’s responsibility to have them checked by Bomba when they reach their expiry dates to ensure that they are still functioning.

“To continue our ‘Total Fire Safety Management’, making a champion and ‘citizen-life-savers’, a variety of public safety and awareness programmes were conducted last year,” Khirudin said.

The department has recorded a total of 2,652 of such activities such as talks, demonstrations, exhibitions, building evacuation exercises, and mock fire drill, which were conducted statewide in 2019. —DayakDaily

Alexsidi (3rd left) received the certificate of appreciation for his bravery from Khirudin (2nd left) witnessed by his parents, Bomba Sarawak assistant director of operations Tiong Ling Hii (left) and Bomba Academy Sarawak commandant Sabaruddin Mohamad.