BY Izah Azahari
The Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) continues to record a drop in the overall number of distress calls received, with 2021 reporting a 12.4-per-cent decrease from the previous year.
Last year, 5,921 emergency calls were received, down from 6,759 the year earlier. In 2021, structural fire calls also experienced a 12.4-per-cent reduction, with property losses dropping by 41.8 per cent compared to 2020. Additionally, no deaths were recorded in 2021.
A 14.7-per-cent drop in the number of house and building fire distress calls was also recorded in 2021, compared to the previous year. Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong shared the statistics during the FRD’s 62nd anniversary celebration at the FRD Headquarters along Airport Lama in Berakas on Thursday.
Attributing the drop in numbers to the actively-held FRD programmes designed to raise public awareness in fighting fires, the minister said, “It is showing results. The public’s involvement in extinguishing small fires before the firefighters’ arrival to the scene is an example where early action indirectly saves lives and minimises the rate of property loss.”
The minister also highlighted that the FRD has come a long way since its inception, notching countless achievements particularly in terms of duties and responsibilities in maintaining public safety and welfare, as well as developments in terms of training and skills, professionalism and well-being of fire brigade personnel.
“With these developments and reforms, the FRD is able to provide refined services to the country and ensure public safety in the areas of firefighting as well as saving lives and properties.”
Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar also highlighted that in a show of appreciation, the department awarded Meritorious Community certificates to 48 members of the public who courageously acted as ‘first responders’ in fire-related situations in 2021. This year, 17 members have already been awarded the certificate.
The minister also applauded the public for participating in the FRD safety programmes, which recorded 14,610 participants from government agencies and the private sector attending briefings, the Life Saver 995, fire marshal and fire drill programmes last year.
“A total of 1,480 fire marshals have also been appointed at government and private agencies,” the minister said, before calling on officials from government departments and the private sector, as well as the community as a whole to participate in FRD programmes.
In ensuring compliance with the Fire Safety Order 2016, the minister said, “The FRD has conducted government building and private premises inspections, seeing a 47-per-cent increase in the issuance of fire certificates to government buildings in 2021, compared to 2020. Only 17 per cent obtained fire certificates, while 53 per cent were reported to have failed to comply with the standards of the order.
“A total of 89 per cent of private premises passed the inspection and were issued a certificate in 2021. In 2020, the figure stood at 79 per cent, while 11 per cent failed.
“I also recommend that building owners and occupants be equally responsible in ensuring the buildings are in good condition, safe to use, and have available fire safety equipment including fire extinguishers, fire safety alarm system, in accordance with the Fire Safety Order 2016 standards,” the minister added.
With regards to the response time in dealing with structural fire incidences, the minister said the FRD stood at “83.1 per cent”, exceeding the targetted 80 per cent threshold by 3.1 per cent. He also highlighted the department’s success rate in dealing with large-scale forest, grass and peat land fires in a shorter duration.
“The FRD continues to work with stakeholders and the public in conducting patrols to monitor forest and grass fires, etc. Through this, calls to tackle forest fires have reduced to 42.2 per cent this year, compared to 53 per cent in the previous year,” the minister said.
The FRD actively works on strengthening its capabilities in the field of rescues and operations, as well as in improving its logistics, skills and use of technology.
The department continues to improve firefighters’ skills through courses in the technical field, and in-house IT course training for personnel. Additionally, March 2022 saw the introduction of a comprehensive group family insurance for its personnel.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin