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By Zaphne Philip
KUCHING, June 22 (Bernama) -- The Volunteer Fire Brigade (PBS) units that serve with a passion to save lives are unsung heroes, said Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department (JPBM) director Datuk Khirudin Drahman.
He said PBS units play an important role in helping the department in the event of any disaster and emergency.
“They (PBS) have been trained and they are the first to respond before the fire brigade reaches the scene, especially if there is a fire in rural and remote areas that are difficult to access.
"In this situation, the efficiency and expertise of the trained PBS are very useful in helping to save the victims from losing property or being killed," he told Bernama when met recently.
Khirudin said given that Sarawak covers 124,000 square kilometres, it was impossible and difficult for the 38 existing fire stations to deliver services to the community in a short time.
“So to ensure that the service reaches the community from Tanjung Datu to Lawas, the short-term solution or fire initiative is to encourage the setting up of PBS to help firefighters and be the first responders.
"We do not want to see fire victims’ houses razed to the ground by the time the fire brigade arrives at the scene like the fire incident involving a longhouse that was completely destroyed in Betong five years ago and claimed the life of a five-year-old child while two victims suffered severe burns," he said.
Thus far, the PBS which is under the provisions of Section 62 (1) (Ca) of the Fire Services Act 1988 has a total of 56 units registered throughout Sarawak with 2,471 members.
Meanwhile, Kampung Bako Indah PBS chairman Noh Yahim said the community in the village felt the urgency to set up PBS because they realised the importance of first responders after witnessing a large fire involving four houses in the village in 2005.
"Since then, we have put together a total of 30 members and officially became a member of PBS in 2008 after completing a three-month course at the Tabuan Jaya fire station," he said.
The biggest success of PBS Kampung Bako was during the 2012 incident that took place in a nearby village called Kampung Bako Hijrah involving a house on fire where the volunteer team was able to prevent the blaze from spreading to four other houses before the fire and rescue department team arrived.
"The second incident was in 2016, where I personally managed to rescue a man who fell from the jetty while doing work there," he said.
He said, when you have a saviour mentality, the first thing that comes to mind in the event of untoward incidents is to save lives. That is how important the role of PBS is because many still do not understand its role and function.
Kampung Simpok PBS chairman Alice Luna Bala said the PBS in her village was established in 2017 after a major flood occurred in their village three years earlier which caused her community to be cut off for three days.
Since then, more and more villagers realised the importance of first responders in the event of a disaster and the number of PBS Kampung Simpok members which started with 10 people has now increased to over 30 people.
"Even though most members have their own commitment, we are still ready to carry out volunteer work without expecting anything in return," she said.
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