Malaysia — Fresh from spending the RM430 million allocation under theNinth Malaysia Plan, the Fire and Rescue Department will ask the government foranother RM300 million to buy equipment.
The new budget will be for 400 special boats, including hovercrafts,heavy-duty lorries to transport rescue equipment, and training for firemen,Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said yesterday.
Ong said the departments allocation under the five-year Plan was spent “assoon as it was approved” so that it could be in a state of preparedness.
Reports that Malaysia would experience extreme weather patterns due to globalwarming required the department to be prepared for floods and more fires,besides fighting everyday emergencies.
“We cannot afford to wait until disasters strike. It is a matter of urgencyto acquire the necessary equipment as soon as possible so that we can beprepared for any eventuality,” Ong said after a handover ceremony of 100aluminium rescue boats and 16 Kevlar composite boats to departmentdirector-general Datuk Hamzah Abu Bakar at the Fire and Rescue DepartmentCyberjaya station.
Ong said the 116 boats were ordered before the Dec 19 floods in Johor and othersouthern states. The boats will be sent to all fire and rescue stationsnationwide.
“Even these boats are not enough. The department has requested anotherallocation of RM300 million which I will table at the Cabinet soon,” hesaid.
One aluminium boat with fittings costs RM63,325, while a high-powered 200HpKevlar boat with auxiliary equipment costs RM453,000.
The 116 boats were purchased using the 9MP allocation, which was also spent on345 fire engines, two helicopters and 10 units of high performance water pumps,which can divert water from streams or rivers for up to 2km.
Ong said in view of predictions of a pending drought, volunteer firemen acrossthe country were being trained while the department is keeping an eye on peatsoil hotspots in Selangor and Pahang.