Kelabit highlands now has a Volunteer Fire and Rescue Force

Some of the volunteer fire and rescue force (PBS) in Bario in a group photo with officers from Fire and Rescue (Bomba) Department Marudi and the Air Unit upon their arrival.

By Nancy Nais

BARIO, Feb 1: Fourteen villages here created history of sorts when they became the first Kelabit community to set up a Volunteer Fire and Rescue Force (PBS) in the highlands.

PBS Bario chairman Frazier Kaya said the idea of setting up the force was mooted by Miri fire chief Law Poh Kiong, who has been encouraging the Kelabits to do so since August 2017.

The primary role of the PBS is to conduct firefighting operations in their community. In case of a fire, the volunteers are to control, if not douse, the blaze.

They are also entrusted by the department to spread awareness about fire safety.

“As we are all aware, there is no fire station in Bario. The nearest station is in Marudi. It takes about 16 to 18 hours on road from Marudi to Bario, depending on road and weather conditions. So, it is literally impossible for firefighters from Marudi to fight fire in the event if it happens here,” Frazier said at the PBS basic training closing ceremony yesterday.

Frazier (centre) showing Law (left) and Sim the PBS Bario’s equipment that is kept in his own storeroom as a temporary shelter.

Thanking the state Fire and Rescue (Bomba) Department, especially the team of trainers led by Marudi fire station chief Maureen Sim, for conducting the training day and night, Frazier hoped there would be more of such events in the future.

“We, PBS Bario, are fortunate to be given the opportunity to attend this training. It is very encouraging and a motivation for us here in the highlands to be able to learn important skills like this.

“We hope the department will continue this effort and others will work with Bomba to ensure everyone’s well-being, especially in terms of fire and safety,” he said.

Frazier (right) receiving the PBS certificate of participation from Mulu assemblyman Datuk Gerawat Gala. With them are (from left) Sim, Law and Bario district officer Edwin Jelenggai.

Although PBS Bario was registered in Aug 2017, Frazier said they did not have a fire station in the area.

At the moment, all the fire equipment supplied to PBS Bario are temporarily kept in Frazier’s storeroom at home.

“I hope the state government will assist us. At the same time, we are also in dire need of funds and provisions to conduct fire safety training and activities for PBS Bario,” he added.— DayakDaily