State Bomba moots punishing firebugs with costs of putting out fires

Khirudin (second right) testing a Honda Versys 650cc motorcycle with acting deputy director PgKB I Tiong Ling Hii (right) and assistant director of fire and safety PgKB I Mohd Fauzi Mohamat Kifli (left).

by Nancy Nais

KUCHING: Nov 5: The Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) has recommended to the state government and relevant agencies to conduct a review of current laws on open burning and to allow irresponsible parties to be charged with special service costs.

State Bomba director Khirudin Drahman said the proposal is justified to prevent repeated incidents of forest, peat and bush fires throughout Sarawak.

“After analysing this year’s statistics for open burning cases throughout Sarawak, almost 9,000 acres of land were burnt either intentionally or unintentionally by plantation land owners, companies, farmers or irresponsible individuals.

“We’ve repeatedly mentioned and urged everyone not to conduct open burning especially throughout the hot and dry season, but many are not abiding by it. When the burning becomes uncontrollable, then only they contact Bomba,” Khirudin said after officiating at the handing over ceremony for five Toyota Hilux 4×4 vehicles, three RIM Honda Versys 650cc motorcycles, 422 sets of bunker gear and personal protective equipment (PPE) to five zone fire chiefs and 11 fire stations from Kuching, Bau, Lundu, Samarahan, Siburan, Serian, Simunjan and Asajaya.

Khirudin explained that special service charges should apply against any landowner, company or individual who are found to have intentionally burnt or conducted open burning on their land.

If the proposal is approved, the culprits will be required to bear all costs related to firefighting operations in their land or area.

“This is aimed at educating landowners in the state to be more responsible when managing and controlling their land activities,” Khirudin added.

Khirudin (second right) handing over a mock 4×4 vehicle key to acting deputy director director PgKB I Tiong Ling Hii (right).

Citing the examples of the devastating forest, peat and bush fires in Miri and Sri Aman this year, Khirudin lamented how his men had to work 24 hours a day for weeks.

Not only were the firefighter’s health put at risk, their offdays and leave were also frozen as the situation required all hands on deck.

“After the hot season is over, now we are on standby for ‘landas’ season. It means all leave from work remains frozen,” he added.

Meanwhile, Khirudin also touched on his senior officers’ accountability in the organisation.

He said the department needs resilient leaders who will take responsibility for continuous improvement in their performance as a public service and bring other people with them.

“We need leaders who are able to collaborate across our different functions internally as well as both operationally, and be professionally competent as well as capable of creating a compelling vision for the future to inspire and motivate others.

“You need to take responsibility for any decision and actions that have been performed without relying on your desk officers. We do not want senior leaders who are ‘postmen’ who always hand over their responsibilities to their subordinates,” he said. — DayakDaily