Sungai Asap folks request govt to give them a fire station

Belaga district officer Juan Ubit speaking at the new Belaga fire station handing over ceremony.

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By Nancy Nais

BELAGA, April 2: The government has been called on to set up a fire station in Sungai Asap.

Belaga district officer Juan Ubit said this is necessary not only because of the growing population but the fact that Sungai Asap has recorded many longhouse fires in the district.


“The presence of Bomba (Fire and Rescue Department) is very important in the event of a fire outbreak to save property and human lives,” he said during the official hand over of Belaga fire station by JKR Sarawak to Bomba state director PKPjB Khirudin Drahman at site yesterday.

An aerial view of Belaga fire station.

Attributing the success of finally having a fire station in Belaga to assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang and Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong for their persistence in pushing the government, Juan said it is now the hope of Sungai Asap folks to have one as well.

“We  have recorded so many fire cases in the district and 90 per cent came from Sungai Asap. Last three years or so, a total of 215 doors from seven longhouses were destroyed by fire.

“When the folks in Sungai Asap saw that Belaga has a fire station, they conveyed their wish and desperation for a fire station as well,” Julan said.

He asserted that the folks have some sort of phobia over fire because many have been through the harrowing and painful experience when their longhouse caught fire, causing them to lose everything they treasured and once owned.

At the event, Julan also spoke on behalf Liwan (who could not attend the event due to other work commitments in Kuching), saying as their elected representative, the latter has constantly advised longhouse folks not to simply extend their home with no proper wiring and safety measures to consider.

“We have been constantly reminding them. In most places, when they extend their longhouse, they usually do it on their own and you can see messy wirings which are very dangerous.

“Therefore we hope that Bomba can conduct more awareness programmes to educate these people,” Juan said, adding that there is a saying where ‘villagers tend to listen to Bomba because they look highly upon the firefighters.

He also praised Bomba for setting up a volunteer firefighting squad in Belaga, which can help to stop fires from spreading further.

Juan opined similar units at every longhouse should be done.

On the other hand, longhouse folks must also be proactive in willingly set up their firefighting squad.

“All the longhouses and kampungs in Belaga are very far in the remote interior. Even if we have a fire station, in the event of fire, there’s no way our firefighters can respond and arrive in minutes. Some places are as far as a few hours away.

But if there are properly-trained volunteer firefighting squads armed with basic firefighting equipment, at least they could prevent the fire from spreading,” Juan asserted.

Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang

Meanwhile, Liwan also conveyed his request to Khirudin in recruiting local auxiliary firefighters from Belaga itself.

He is hopeful that Bomba Sarawak will consider getting one person from each longhouse as auxiliary firefighter for Belaga station.

Not only will this be an employment opportunity but in return, these auxiliaries can lead and guide on fire safety at their respective longhouse. — DayakDaily