By Adrian Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17: The Ministry of Housing and Local Government is looking to provide fire hydrants to longhouses in Sarawak as a safety measure to prevent fire incidents at longhouses.
Deputy Minister of Housing and Local Government Datuk Seri Ismail Abd Muttalib said the ministry has applied for funds for fire hydrants to be installed at longhouses in Sarawak next year.
“As a caring government, the ministry as well as the Fire and Rescue Department prioritise the safety of the citizens.
“Thus, the ministry has applied for funds to procure new fire hydrants for the whole of the country for 2021 including those to be installed at longhouses in Sarawak that have basic amenities such as water pipes.
“I have requested the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and the Ministry of Finance to give attention for the application of this allocation as it is a facility for the people which needs to be given attention,” he said at the Parliament today.
Ismail was replying to Sibuti MP Lukanisman Awang Sauni who asked the Housing and Local Government Ministry on the measures taken to install fire hydrants and basic fire extinguisher equipment at longhouses in Sarawak to prevent longhouses from being razed down by fire.
Ismail added as a proactive measure to prevent fire in longhouses, the ministry through Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department has collaborated with the Rural Water Supply Department to install fire hydrants at suitable locations at longhouses.
Ismail said the Housing and Local Government Ministry through Malaysia Fire and Rescue Department has planned and implemented fire preventive measures such as fire prevention awareness talk and fire drills at longhouses.
He added that the Malaysia Fire and Rescue Department has also cooperated with the private sector to supply fire extinguishers and fire safety equipment to some longhouses in Sarawak.
Ismail believed those measures undertaken by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government as well as the private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGO) as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes were sufficient to educate the longhouse folks to prevent fire at their longhouses.
He said there are approximately 4,500 longhouses in Sarawak.
Ismail disclosed that there are currently 34,838 units of fire hydrants being installed in Sarawak and out of that amount, 707 units were being installed at longhouses at 29 locations in the state.
He explained that longhouses are private residences and it is not compulsory to install fire safety equipment as it is not stipulated in Sarawak Building Ordinance 1994.
On a supplementary question by Lukanisman on the need to provide written manuals as guidelines for longhouse folks to prevent fire and rebuild longhouses razed down by fire, Ismail said there were no such requirements as stipulated in the Sarawak Building Ordinance 1994.
Nonetheless, he said the ministry is open to have discussion with the state government and Lukanisman on the best approaches to prevent the occurrence of fire at longhouses in Sarawak.
Ismail noted that out of 10 fire incidents which happened in longhouses this year, the people in four longhouses have managed to salvage belongings amounting to an estimated RM9.7 million from the fire extinguishers provided by the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department.
Earlier, Lukanisman said there were 20 longhouses being razed down by fire from 2018 to 2020. —DayakDaily