Malaysia — The Fire and Rescue Services Department is spreading itself thin in its fight against raging forest and peat fires in the country.
Its director-general, Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim, said it needed the full cooperation of the people, as their personnel may be forced to focus on forest fires.
“Firemen are spread thin fighting forest fires now. Each station has a capacity of 10 firemen at the most, and if they have been sent to fight forest fires, other emergencies that crop up in the station’s area will not be attended to,” he said after presenting the excellence awards to department personnel here yesterday.
Besides affecting the operations of a station, the department also incurred more cost from fighting forest fires.
“Stationing firemen in forest areas is costly as they need to be there for a certain timeframe, sometimes for weeks,” Wan Mohd Nor said, adding that if the people were cooperative on this matter, the department could concentrate its efforts on other matters.
He said Malaysians were to be blamed for the spate of forest fires engulfing the country recently.
He said with the current dry spell, all that was needed to start a fire was a cigarette butt.
“As such, I appeal to smokers not to throw cigarette butts indiscriminately.”
He also said the department had recorded a significant increase in the number of forest fires.
“Normally, we only receive 100 reports of forest fires.
“But, now, because of the current dry season, the figure has increased to between 400 and 500 in the past month.”
Earlier in his speech, Wan Mohd Nor advised his men to spend within their means in view of the rising cost of living.
“Be thankful for whatever you have and always remember there are people who are worse off than us.”