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By Nancy Nais
BARIO, Feb 1: Mulu assemblyman Datuk Gerawat Gala has pledged to help Bario voluntary fire and rescue force (PBS) apply for land from the state government to build a fire station.
Currently, there are roughly 7,500 people living in the subdistrict of Bario, with 14 longhouses, eight government offices, two schools and several shop lots.
“The last horrific fires that destroyed three longhouses in recent years have become bitter lessons and experience for the residents here. Therefore, I fully support the establishment of PBS in Bario, and I also agree that they need a fire station to store their equipment.
“I will submit the necessary papers to the Local Housing Ministry,” Gerawat said at the PBS basic training closing ceremony yesterday.
He also gave RM15,000 from his minor rural project (MRP) fund for PBS Bario to conduct training programmes.
Longhouse fire incidents had prompted the state Fire and Rescue (Bomba) Department to push village chiefs on the importance of having PBS.
Citing Bomba’s investigation report, Gerawat said the three fires in Bario were caused by short circuits. This is cause for concern because an increasing number of areas in Bario now have electricity.
“However, these villagers either simply extend the wiring, hired unqualified electricians to save cost or go overboard by taxing the electrical points and overloading them with electrical appliances.
“Therefore, I would like to advise all of you not to save the RM2,000 for a proper qualified electricity connection. It is better to spend that RM2,000 than losing your whole house, savings and antiques to fires,” he said.
Thanking Bomba for their initiative to set up PBS in Bario, Gerawat said he had full confidence in Bomba, who is ever ready to train PBS members.
In his address, Miri fire chief Law Poh Kiong lauded the Bario community for being a positive example for others to follow.
Bomba has been formulating appropriate programmes and find ways to help villagers overcome existing barriers.
“We hold fire safety awareness and prevention programmes, such as longhouse outreach campaigns, summer camps, community Bomba and community emergency response teams (ERT). Additionally, we also establish voluntary firefighting units and implement Bomba programmes for children,” Law told those present.
He assured that the PBS would be provided with basic training and replication as well as other recent exercises by the department to improve their skills and competencies in emergency situations.
He hoped the PBS could perform their duties as best as they could and comply with all regulations set by Bomba in the use, handling, driving and maintenance of their assets.
“Safeguard your equipment well so that it can work well when attending to any operation,” he said.
At the same event, Bomba presented 100 fire extinguishers, sponsored by Malaysian Fire Protection Association (MFPA). The fire extinguishers were flown to Bario by Bomba’s air unit in Miri.
PBS Bario received two units while the other 14 villages received seven units each. — DayakDaily