Longhouses receive 140 firefighting systems

Salang (front) trying out the longhouse fire fighting system at Rumah Nyambar. Behind him is the system’s inventor Richard.

SIBU: More than 140 longhouse-based simple firefighting systems have been distributed to longhouses in the state so far.

1Malaysia Sarawak Advisory Council (1MSAC) chairman Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum said the system consisted of a high pressure water pump, fire hose, nozzle and water tanks.

“This system developed by Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak campus lecturer Dr Richard Belanda Dagang is specifically to combat fire outbreaks in longhouses,” he said when launching it at Rumah Nyambar Chandai in Ulu Kota in Pakan on Saturday.

“These are very important equipment for any longhouse, especially those deep in the interiors, to fight any fire outbreak immediately. But It is my wish that those who have been given the system will have no opportunity to use it at all,” he said.

He reminded those who had received the system to train how to use it so that they know how to use it properly when it matters most.  Salang, who is Julau MP, said human negligence was the most common cause of longhouse fires and thus urged the people to be extra careful when cooking or using any electrical appliances .

Tuai Rumah Nyambar said: “It is a feel good feeling to have this system ready for any eventuality.     We are indeed very grateful to Salang, his 1MSAC and the government for looking after our welfare,” he added.

Salang (second right) visits the scene of the fire at Rumah Mandaw Bili near Sebangkoi in Sarikei.

Meanwhile, when met, Richard said his system was most suitable for use in longhouses.

“This is because of the smaller area compared to a village with its many scattered individual houses.  It is perfect for those longhouses far away from any Fire and Rescue Department (stations),” he said.

He added he has now come up with a new version of the system which he believed was even more powerful. “I have decided to use a more powerful water pump plus four customised water tanks which can self-harvest rainwater. The previous system used three tanks. Each tank as usual can hold 40 gallons of water,” he said.

Richard said while the older system could cost up to RM15,000 to install, the new one will cost RM3,000 more.

“Previously too we use the 6.5 horse power water pump but now we prefer the 13 horse power (unit),” he said, adding that the system had been approved by the state Fire and Rescue Department. Our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has been shown how it operates twice,” he said.

Dr Richard said folks responsible for operating the system should consult or train with firemen on how to handle it, and in particular how to spray water during a fire.

He said longhouse chiefs interested in acquiring the system should contact 1MSAC or their respective elected representative.

Earlier in the morning, Salang, who is also secretary-general of Parti Rakyat Sarawak visited the Rumah Mandaw Bili fire victims near Sebangkoi in Sarikei.

The 12-door longhouse was completely destroyed by a 10.45am fire on the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri recently. He visited them to see how he could help them to get government assistance in the effort to rebuild their longhouse at the same site.

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