By Nancy Nais
BARAM, July 14: Sarawak needs at least 50 fire stations for the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) to serve the community promptly and efficiently especially during emergencies and disasters.
This is due to the population’s large size and distribution, and the extensive and challenging topography in the largest state in Malaysia.
The above challenges, topped up the fact that many villages are far flung from the nearest fire station make it difficult for firefighters to get to the scene quickly.
Although there is restriction of allocations for the government to build more fire stations especially in rural areas, Bomba Sarawak director Khirudin Drahman said that would not be reason for the department to slow down.
“Currently, we have 32 fire stations statewide and we will get four new ones under category D and E, each in Niah, Matu, Selangau and Sibu Jaya later this year,” he said at the department’s community programme and installation of 135 members of Bomba Komuniti with Petronas Sabah Sarawak Gas Pipeline (SSGP) at Long Laput recently.
The lack of emergency-related resources in rural areas may compromise rural readiness for future emergencies; hence, with the current 32 fire stations, the department will use whatever resources they have to intensify their programmes involving local communities especially in rural areas to raise public awareness on early disaster prevention measures.
“We never know when an emergency will strike our community, which is why early preparation, community education, and constant vigilance are essential to keeping citizens safe. One of the most effective ways of preparing our people for a possible disaster, is to involve them directly in the education and response process,” Khirudin said.
He added that the department through its respective fire stations or zones has been organising Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Emergency Response Team (ERT), Bomba Komuniti and many more programmes and activities.
This will continue, he assured, as through such programmes, the department is able to train local folks to prevent fires and in the event if fire does happen, villagers are able to handle the situation while it is still at the early stages.
He acknowledged that in many cases, fires usually start small, but due to the chaos, panic and not knowing what to do, residents were unable to suitably respond.
“The first five minutes are always the critical moments because if fire can be controlled at that time, we can avoid bigger fires from there,” Khirudin said. — DayakDaily