State to study whether to make it a must for longhouses to have fire retention walls, gaps

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By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, Dec 15: The Sarawak government will conduct a study to see if there is a need to make it mandatory for longhouses to build fire retention walls or fire gaps to prevent the spread of fire during emergencies.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the district councils already had the standard designs of fire retention walls and fire gaps for longhouses. However, it is not mandatory to follow these designs currently.

“We will see how. We may have to amend some Acts and by-laws in the district councils and the Sarawak Building Ordinance and also the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba). Some longhouses, especially in Baram, have already followed the standard fire retention wall or fire gap design for their longhouses.

“But many longhouses are not ready to accept this, and we cannot force them. There is not much acceptance,” he told reporters after closing the Satok Community Bomba Programme here today.

Bomba personnel giving Abang Johari (in blue shirt) a welcoming performance upon his arrival at the event. He is flanked by Khirudin.

Meanwhile, state Bomba director Khirudin Drahman said among the reasons why acceptance was lacking among longhouse dwellers were tradition and culture-related.

Recently, two longhouses were destroyed in a fire that happened in less than a month apart.

One was at Rumah Usek in Niah on Nov 24, which displaced some 350 residents. The most recent one was at Rumah Sambau in Nanga Entulang, Sri Aman, on Dec 12, which killed an elderly woman and left some 250 people homeless. — DayakDaily