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KOTA KINABALU, April 19 -- The Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department is on a mission to equip communities in Sabah and Sarawak with basic firefighting and rescue skills to ensure that they can serve as first responders during an emergency.
Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Hamdan Wahid said this was important in the two states, as both were large in size and had their own logistical challenges, such sparse road networks that made it difficult for firefighters to provide immediate aid to those in need.
"Firefighters can’t be like Superman, who appears whenever disaster strikes. There are various obstacles that we face in reaching the incident location.
"So we need to strengthen firefighting knowledge among the communities so that they can be the first to provide services on-site, as well as help us in our operation,” he said at a media conference here tonight.
He had awarded the Director-General’s Award to 17 recipients and the Excellent Service Award to 71 recipients from the Sabah state Fire and Rescue Department.
Mohammad Hamdan said a fine example of such a partnership in Sabah was the establishment of the mountain search and rescue (MOSAR) team from among the mountain guides to conduct search and rescue operations in mountainous areas, including Mount Kinabalu.
He said through MOSAR, mountain guides were appointed as auxiliary firefighters with an RM8 hourly allowance and given firefighting training, including search and rescue operations. They also are provided equipment and provisions to conduct firefighting duties.
"In addition, we have also established a fishermen’s firefighting squad for rescue operations at sea...as local communities such as mountain guides and fishermen know their areas better, and this will speed up the operations,” he said.