The Star, 16 June 2014
PETALING JAYA: After handling nearly 20,000 fires in February and March, the country’s firemen appear to be well tested and ready to use that experience to face the El Nino weather phenomenon.
In Selangor and other water scarce areas, the firemen struggled against a series of forest fires against the backdrop of depleting sources and shortage of manpower. The dangers of dealing with a forest fire are limitless, as flames can reach scary heights and spread quickly.
“When a huge field is burning, it can be incredibly overwhelming. And when you have limited manpower, it’s a huge struggle,” said Mohd Hisham Mat Yasih, the officer in charge of the Puchong Fire and Rescue station.
Mohd Hisham, 35, who has been a fireman for 10 years, added: “We weren’t equipped to handle so many forest fires. But now we’re prepared. We may have our limitations, but we will do our very best to ensure the safety of the people.”
Supervisor Sehat Bedol said a forest fire in Taman Puchong Jaya early this year exposed certain areas of weakness, the main one being the lack of water sources.
“The dry bushes caught fire and after we received the 999 call, we sent our fire truck.
“However, when we arrived, the fire was out of control and we just couldn’t handle it on our own. We requested backup from nearby stations and three fire trucks came to our aid.
“With four trucks, we managed to put out the fire, but not without a mighty struggle,” said Sehat, 55, who has been in the field since 1985.
If the nearest pond, in some places, is a distance away, the fire engines extend their hoses to pump water to the site using relay pumping.
The Fire and Rescue department has been warned of the impending phenomenon, and preparations have been made to ensure they are as effective as possible.