'Be prepared for challenges', Brunei Minister tells fire and rescue personnel

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ANN) - In facing the current advancement of progress and development, members of the fire and rescue personnel must be prepared at all times to equip themselves with the advancement of knowledge and skills to deal with challenges brought by technological advancement.

This was stated by Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong at the guard of honour held in conjunction with the 58th anniversary celebration of the Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) yesterday.

The ceremony took place at Parade Square of the FRD Headquarters in Berakas.

The minister said in 2017, there were 353 building and house fire incidents, with an estimated loss amounting to BND7.35 million, and the value of rescued property totalling BND3.3 million.

He said the FRD has dealt with 4,473 incidents which covered road accidents, search and rescue, and natural disasters such as landslides. "We appreciate the department’s capability and ability in facing them," added the minister.

He said this year, as of March, 18 calls of house fires and four calls of building fires, involving property loss of BND712,160 was recorded. The statistics of the calls in the first three months also showed the decrease of house fires.

The FRD must continue to work together with other related agencies more efficiently. This is line with the sabda of His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office as the Chairman of the National Disaster Council, which stressed on disaster management across different jurisdictions and agencies. One of the initiatives being reviewed to reduce fire incidents is outsourcing fire inspection using public and private partnership.

The minister added that with the increase of incidents, it is important that the community takes preventive steps and be responsible in making sure their business premises and homes are safe.

He said that the FRD’s initiative to implement public programmes is appreciated. In 2017, 18,012 participated in learning and public awareness programmes, which included talks, visits and fire marshal and fire drill courses. A total of 5,339 were appointed as fire marshals from 166 organisations and the private sector. In addition, 4,585 people from 63 government agencies have participated in the fire marshal course.

The minister hoped that the effort to instil public awareness continues. The agencies were encouraged to organise regular fire drills to ensure the effectiveness of the training.

The minister inspected the guard of honour, comprising 94 personnel, and presented awards to 51 exemplary officers, personnel and staff. He also awarded three exemplary fire stations, with Women Operation Unit Fire Station emerging champion, and Spark Fire Station and Bukit Beruang Fire Station winning second and third places.

Fourteen personnel also received an appreciation award.

Also present was Acting Director of Fire and Rescue, Colonel (Rtd) Pengiran Haji Maiddin bin Pengiran Haji Said.