By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, Aug 9: Federal Minister of Housing and Local Government Zuraida Kamaruddin has arranged 1,000 units of fire extinguishers to be delivered to longhouses in Sarawak.
The severity of longhouse fire cases over the years in the state has caught the attention of the minister who also acknowledged the fact that it has reached a worrying stage.
“We have been looking into some viable immediate and long term solutions to reduce the incidences. As one of the immediate measures to address the problem face by these folks, I have arranged for these fire extinguishers to be sent over, as soon as possible,” she told DayakDaily today.
Based on the feedback gathered on the ground during her previous visit, Zuraida said they wanted to understand the problem and difficulties faced by families living at the longhouses so to look into ways to improve on the facilities.
“With the fire extinguishers, residents can put out fire during emergencies while waiting for firefighters to arrive. This is crucial especially for longhouses, which are mostly isolated and far from the nearest fire station,” she added.
Given the distance between the longhouses and fire station, Zuraida pointed out that Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) can equip villagers with knowledge of fire prevention and trained them to become ‘community firemen’.
Under the ‘Bomba Komuniti’ programme, local leaders and volunteers will be trained so that they could attend to any fire incident, especially on how they can stop even the smallest fire such as a burning kettle.
Apart from putting out fire, they will also be taught on various methods of fire prevention, safety and education for young children.
As of July 16, official statistics from Bomba recorded a total of eight longhouse fires this year.
Last year, 24 longhouses were razed by fire, rendering 431 doors and families homeless.
In 2017, 26 longhouses were destroyed while 2016 recorded 20 cases, rendering a total of 774 doors and families homeless.
Meanwhile, for long term measure, Zuraida disclosed that the Ministry has proposed new category ‘E’ fire station, which will be built in rural areas to accommodate the needs of longhouses.
Apart from firefighting, category E facility will also help in training the local residents besides providing services to longhouses and others in the rural areas.— DayakDaily