Alarming increase of fire deaths in first four months
An alarming increase in the number of fatalities caused by fire was reported between January and April this year, compared to cases in previous years. National Fire and Rescue Services Department Director Khirudin B Drahman @ Husaini said eight deaths were recorded in the first four months of this year while there were only 18 fatalities recorded between 2005 and 2007. “In 2005 there were 11 recorded deaths, four in 2006 and three in 2007, while for the first four months of this year, there were already eight deaths and five injuries recorded,” he said. According to Khirudin, 99 percent of the fire cases recorded were usually caused by human negligence and lack of awareness of the importance of fire prevention. “It is very important for the people to know the methods to prevent and put out fire because most of the cases involved the elderly and children who were trapped by fire and needed assistance. “Therefore I advise the people to respond to the fire first and put it out when they encounter such an incident. I also urge every household to put a fire extinguisher in their own home as it is very important in the instance of a fire breaking out,” he said. Khirudin added that the 3E education, engineering and enforcement method is used in fire prevention and the involvement of the public and the relevant authorities is needed. He also advised the public to be extra careful when dealing with the usage of electricity, the storage of highly flammable things and to look after the elderly as well as children especially during the Kaamatan Festival. However, Khirudin said that there was a decrease in the number of fake calls made by the public since the introduction of a system to detect calls made through the emergency number 999. “Between January and April this year, we only received nine fake calls compared to 77 calls made from 2005 until 2007,” he said, adding that 246 calls received were fire reports and 151 calls were for rescue service. As for the losses incurred by fire, he said the statistics recorded RM14.8 million while RM51.9 million losses were recorded in cases needing rescue service, between January and April this year. Meanwhile, Khirudin said there are a total of 771 firefighters and 20 fire and rescue stations in Sabah and they will conduct more awareness programmes for the public such as general education for primary and secondary schools and also a mobile exhibition to educate the public on fire prevention.