Sunday, September 22

Pat on the back for firefighters

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Uggah ticks off disaster committee agencies for not supporting firemen in fighting bush, peat fires

Uggah (left) checks a tubewell in front of Tudan Watch Tower as (from second left) Law, Lee, Khiruddin and Ting look on.

MIRI: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas lauded the State Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba Sarawak) which apparently had very little support from other agencies in the Disaster Management Committee in extinguishing forest, peat soil and bush fires across the state.

He thanked Bomba Sarawak personnel for their commitment and hard work in the past weeks, risking their lives to put out fires across the state, pointing out they almost on its own extinguished a total of 75 hotspots statewide since Aug 1.

“On behalf of all Sarawakians and Mirians here, I wish to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to Bomba Sarawak for your sacrifices in extinguishing a total of 75 hotspots almost on your own across the state since Aug 1,” he said.

Uggah who is the chairman of the State Disaster Management Committee, in a press conference at Tudan Watch Tower here yesterday said he was disappointed that the other agencies in the committee did not follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) which they had agreed on in a meeting held here in April this year.

He lamented that Bomba has been working round the clock on its own without the help of other agencies which he said should not have happened.

“Earlier today (yesterday), we were having a meeting with the machinery involved in the Disaster Management. The coordination among all the agencies seems to not taking place as should be, Bomba was very much on their own and they have to bring in their men from Kuching to help here,” Uggah lamented.

Uggah said he had directed all the relevant agencies including the city council, Civil Defence Force, police and others to be more involved in containing the bush and peat fires .

He stressed that it is crucial that all related agencies take their role seriously in addressing any disaster including fires and adhere to the SOP which they all had agreed on.

On the lack of heavy machinery faced by the disaster management committee in fighting the fires, Uggah said they could use their RM600,000 fund to rent heavy machinery such as excavators and bulldozers.

“One of the problems they faced was that lack of heavy machinery. It should not have happened, they have been given the fund and they can use it to rent heavy machinery to help them with firefighting here,” Uggah said.

Uggah added that he had also asked all Residents in all Divisions to hold meetings with their disaster management committee to prepare for the long dry season which is expected to last until Oct this year

“A few places will be having water problem, hence the respective disaster management committees must make early preparation to face the long dry and drought season,” he said.

On the current situation here, Uggah said he is confident that the haze currently affecting the city, especially the northern part, will be overcome in the next few days provided that all the agencies are working together.

On another note, Uggah said he was informed by the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) that the plots of land at Kuala Baram where fire has been burning since Aug 1 have owners, and that NREB has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on fire prevention with them.

“Hence, I would like to appeal to the landowners to comply with the MoU and cooperate with us to find a long-term solution to the forest and peat soil fires in the area,” he said.

Also present at the press conference yesterday were Assistant Minister of Tourism, Art and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting, Bomba Sarawak director Khiruddin Drahman and Zone 6 Fire and Rescue station chief Supt Law Poh Kiong.