Move aside Aquaman, here comes `Abang Bomba’

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By Nancy Nais

MIRI, April 13: When you hear the word ‘superhero’, what do you think of?

Most people probably picture Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Captain America, Iron Man or some other comic book figures who swings from tall buildings and always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

It is probably a difficult question to answer as some might think of firefighters, police officers, people who serve in the armed forces, friends or parents.

When DayakDaily asked several secondary students of SMK Merbau Permai Jaya after a talk by the Fire and Rescue (Bomba) air wing unit on what do they think of when they hear the word ‘hero’, it didn’t take some them more than two seconds to answer – ‘Abang Bomba. I love you!’

David Ling Jia Hao, 14, said real-life superheroes are not the same as what is seen in movies or read in books.

“For me, these characters are illusion heroes. Although I watch several movies and have my favourites like every other person, the obsession has never struck me as it has on so many others.

“I am not saying that superheroes are bad, but I believe the idolatry of superheroes can mess with the population’s misconceptions of heroes causing us, the people, to overlook those among us.

“The real heroes are human beings such as firefighters who fight fires, save us, properties and animals. Policemen are also real heroes because they protect society by getting harms out of the way. It takes work and perseverance,” Ling said.

From left: Officers from Bomba headquarters in Kuching, Mior Muhammad Fikri Mohd Zaini, Henderi Ardimansyah, Josephine Pojen and Mohd Fauzi Moht Kifli with school children wearing mini firefighting suits at one of the department’s community awareness program.

While superheroes also proved to him that there are enough good people in this world to counteract all the bad, Ling felt that these characters give him the misconception that heroes are solely people with super strength, laser vision, the ability to fly and in some cases immortality.

“They often give us the impression that being a superhero is their job. While all that is fine and dandy for comic books, it tends to overshadow the true characteristics of real-life heroes. Heroes are simply ‘everyday people doing everyday things’,” he said.

Student Diether Emmanuel, 13, said he learned a lot about firefighters and their roles.

“I know they rescue people as best as they can, regardless of time or situation. But after the air unit gave us a talk on what firefighters are really all about, their roles, the respective units and specialisations, I learned so much more.

“I never knew the Bomba had an air wing, and I love helicopters. The next time if I ride on a helicopter, I will remember ‘I love you, Abang Bomba’,” Diether said, adding that he would study hard to be a pilot and thanked the department for the encouraging talk.

Aldrin Lynsey Albert 14, who speaks Mandarin, said whenever she saw firefighters in full gear during emergencies, it was a sign of ‘heroes are here’ and these are ‘safe’ people.

“You know he or she is here to protect, help and rescue you,” she said, adding that real-life heroes are not just firefighters but also policemen who catch criminals and paramedics or doctors who save lives, teachers who build the confidence in her or even the bus drivers who transport kids safely to and from school.

Sarawak Bomba air wing recently swapped their roles from flying to educating 1,000 students from SMK Merbau Permai Jaya as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR).

The students, aged 13 to 14, and 30 teachers were members of 10 uniform bodies.

Sarawak Bomba director Khirudin Drahman said the senior management team would always support any of the department’s outreach and community programmes from all units.

“We need to educate the young generations by fighting fire with education. We will focus on education because 90 per cent of fires in Malaysia were caused by human negligence; therefore, we want to set up a community that we would train to become the first line of defence against these fires,” he told DayakDaily.

He pointed out that fires always started out small, but destruction is devastating.

“The 3P approach — precaution, prevention and protection — should be taken seriously as this can help to prevent more serious cases involving fire, which usually starts small,” Khirudin said, adding that the department’s special fire safety module chiefly for children was available at all fire stations in the state.

The module can be used by students, especially those in schools, in preventing and facing calamities. — DayakDaily