Longhouses encouraged to buy insurance coverage

Firefighter Edwin Jonani guiding the children as they practiced spraying water from real fire hose.

By Nancy Nais

BETONG, Feb 22: Longhouse residents in Sarawak have been urged to take up insurance coverage so that they can have some peace of mind in the event of misfortune.

After years of waiting for an insurer who is willing to insure longhouses, Allianz General Insurance Company (Malaysia) Berhad finally became the the first one to agree in providing longhouses coverage.

Supporting the idea, Sri Aman zone fire chief Nik Muhd Afiq Nik Roslan said Allianz came up with a plan called `Allianz KampungKu’ and with such insurance coverage, longhouse will have some compensation for the damage caused by fire or other disasters which they can use to rebuild their longhouses.

“I was made to understand that Allianz offers a yearly premium of RM75 for a coverage of RM10,000, which covers fire and natural disasters such as flood. As it is a reasonable premium, with reasonable conditions where most longhouses can qualify in insuring properties, longhouses should ideally sign up for it,” Nik Muhd Afiq said at Betong fire station’s Fire and Safety Awareness campaign with underprivileged children yesterday.

As there are about 1,100 longhouses under zone 3, which covers Sri Aman, Betong and Saratok jurisdiction, he added that the plan was worth considering, taking note that a lot of longhouses were built of wood.

Longhouse leaders who are interested may contact Pos Malaysia Berhad, which is managing the plan for Allianz.

Although insurance coverage is highly recommended, Nik Muhd Afiq said the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) Malaysia will still prioritise fire preventive measures as their list of responsibilities.

“We will continue to do so, with our ongoing programme in reminding the people not to neglect fire outbreak preventive measures. This is one of our pertinent tasks given the many cases of longhouse fires over the past years. Based on our records, a majority of these longhouse, or even other type of house fires, were caused by negligence,” he said.

Statistics for 2019 from the Fire and Rescue Department showed that 21 longhouses in Sarawak were either totally or partially destroyed by fire, with a total loss of RM13 million.

In 2018, they recorded 24 cases (RM26 million) and 26 cases (RM19 million) in 2017.

Most of the cases were caused by electrical short circuits followed by negligence while cooking with gas appliances.

Nik Muhd Afiq also stressed that there should be no room for complacency, particularly during any celebration at the longhouse, because a fire outbreak could be very destructive.

“We have many longhouses that are located far away from the nearest Bomba stations, so we need to educate these longhouse folks on preventive measures including electrical wiring, appliances, installation of smoke detectors and ideas of fire fighting techniques such as how to use fire extinguishers.

“That is why we are committed to raising awareness especially in longhouses through the ‘Bomba Komuniti’ programme, in addition to running a safety awareness activity starting from pre school school-level,” he said, adding that it is important to prevent more fires involving structures or longhouses from recurring.

Meanwhile, 12 underprivileged children between the ages 5 and 6 from Betong district were treated to  a day out at the fire station yesterday.

They took part in the ‘Stop Drop Roll’ practice and colouring activities.

Their ‘real life’ lesson included something these children won’t get anywhere else, a private tour of the fire station with mini sized fire fighting suits, spraying water from real fire hoses and a ride atop a fire truck with all the lights and sirens.

Towards the end of the event, food ration was also distributed to each children accompanied by their parents or guardians.

The event was jointly organised by Bomba Saratok with Pertubuhan Wartawan Bebas Kuching (Pewarta) and Dayak Daily.

Among those present at the event were Sri Aman zone deputy fire chief Mohammad Raffy Saibi and Betong Fire and Rescue Station chief Vincent Baling Yabi. —DayakDaily

Children were also treated to birthday cake.
Twelve underprivileged children from Betong district were treated to a day out at the fire station.