Saturday March 31, 2012
A ‘fiery’ rise in number of fire cases in first two months
KUCHING: The number of fires in the state in the first two months of this year took a considerable leap up as compared to the same period last year.
Between January and February this year, there were 170 cases; up by 19 cases from last year’s — or 15.6% — said statistics from the Fire and Rescue Department yesterday.
Of this year’s figure, 67 were buildings, 27 vehicles and 23 were bushfires. Two lives were lost and three people were injured in these fires, which also caused losses amounting to RM16.4mil.
The department’s operations deputy director-general Datuk Mahadi Mohamad Ali said the fires involved mainly older buildings with structural problems.
“Such buildings were built before the Sarawak Building Ordinance was established, so they lack proper safeguards that most modern buildings are equipped with. For example, the recent case of the two terraced houses that were razed at Jalan Satok and near Bangunan Baitulmakmur were had shown that they were built in the 80s, before the Ordinance was put into practice in 1996.
“They lacked poor wall partitioning. So when the fire broke out, it spread very easily around the premises,” he explained at a press conference after a commissioning ceremony for the department’s new “Hazardous Materials” (Hazmat) team members.
As for the department’s rescue operations, there were 147 cases in the first two months of this year with 20 involving fatalities and 33 injuries. The majority of these rescue operations were in road accidents at 69, followed by 25 involving toxic chemical leakage or spill.
It also recorded a total of 539 emergency calls during the period, with humanitarian services making up the most calls at 222.
Most of the humanitarian services were for the removal of insects (128 calls), and the capture of snakes, crocodiles and other animals (77).
The newly commissioned Hazmat team this year would also be on hand to tackle any spills or chemically hazardous leaks, which had risen from 200 cases to nearly 500 cases this year.
Mahadi also reminded the public that the 994 hotline would no longer be used starting April 1. Instead, they should call 999 where all emergency related services would be integrated.