Important for longhouses to have own volunteer firefighting unit, says Sarawak Bomba chief

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Khirudin (second right) distributes packets of bubur lambuk to a motorist. Looking on is KDJA chairman Ronnie Teo (right) and Petra Jaya fire station chief Latif Iring (second right). – Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING (April 3): All longhouses in the state should establish volunteer firefighting squads (PBS) under the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) to ensure swift response during an outbreak, said Sarawak Bomba director Datu Khirudin Drahman.

He said having a PBS will minimise the loss of properties and even save lives in areas located far away from fire stations.

“There are some who think that it is not important to have PBS but when a fire breaks out, they will start thinking about setting up one in their area. Unfortunately, they fail to follow through on it until the next disaster strikes,” he said.

He said this when met at a breaking of fast event with members of the press here Saturday at the Petra Jaya fire station, organised by Kuching Division Journalists Association (KDJA).

Citing the fire that razed the 33-door Rh Peter Igoh in Nanga Mujan, Skrang, Betong last Friday, Khirudin said the longhouse is located about 30 minutes from the nearest fire station.

“Thirty minutes is enough time for a fire to destroy an entire longhouse. If they had a PBS in the area, the longhouse could probably have been salvaged,” he added.

In this regard, Khirudin said Sarawak Bomba is always ready to help local communities establish a PBS in their respective area, especially at longhouses.

He said to date, some 1,000 longhouses in the state have a PBS whose tasks include running fire safety programmes together with Bomba.

“When it comes to a fire outbreak, it is the longhouse residents’ response in the first five minutes that will determine the severity of the fire.”

He added that Bomba records last year showed 13 fires involving longhouses, of which seven were saved due to swift intervention by their residents.

Earlier, Khirudin joined KDJA members in distributing bubur lambuk to residents living near the Petra Jaya fire station.

Present at the evet, KDJA chairman Ronnie Teo, KDJA deputy chairman Zulazhar Sheblee, Federation of Sarawak Journalists Association (FSJA) vice president II Jacqueline David, Petra Jaya Bomba station chief Latif Iring and Petra Jaya Bomba firefighters and other fire station chiefs from other Bomba stations.