ENSURING the safety of the public and property during Ramadan is no easy task for Muslim fire-and-rescue personnel.
However, most of them say going without food and water for 14 hours daily for a month is not a problem.
Subang Jaya Fire and Rescue Department fire engine driver Mohd Faizam Mat Rani said fasting did not affect his and other firemen’s daily duties.
“We still go about our work as usual. I keep myself hydrated by drinking a lot of water while breaking fast.
“Although I feel slightly more tired during the fasting month, I tell myself that I can make it until my shift ends,” he said.
Mohd Azri Wasilie, who is in the operations team in the Subang Jaya Fire and Rescue Station, said one should know one’s limitations and seek help from teammates when necessary.
“I ask my colleagues for help if I feel tired. I also make sure to eat healthily when I break fast.”
Mohd Azri, who is from Ranau in Sabah, was a farmer before becoming a fireman last May.
“As a farmer, I had to work in the field during the fasting month and I am used to it,” he said.
The daily routine of equipment inspection, physical and skills training continue as usual during Ramadan.
The firemen also have to be on 24-hour standby in case of an emergency.
During the festive period, the Fire and Rescue Department will check premises with high population density, such as shopping centres and hotels. This is to ensure safety guidelines are adhered to.
One of the frontliners at the Taman Sri Hartamas Fire and Rescue Station, Rosli Ibrahim admittedly finds it a little challenging coping with the demands of his job during the fasting month.
“Big fires often require a lot of energy. If I feel my body cannot take it under certain circumstances, I will break fast and replace it,” he said.
Another frontliner from the station, Mustafa Tahang, said coping with fatigue and thirst during fire rescue operations was difficult.
“The masks we wear make us feel thirsty. Our suits, which are fire resistant, makes us sweat a lot. We will dehydrate faster than usual,” he said.
Both Mustafa and Rosli are in the B squad of the station and are thankful for the help from non-Muslim colleagues during the fasting period.
K. Mugundthan, who is the fire engine driver in the same squad, said he would help his team members more during the fasting month.
“Teamwork is important as the equipment is heavy. One fire hose can weigh 15kg to 20kg,” he said.
The station’s operations head Muhammad Che Ros said the emergency response time must be adhered to strictly even during Ramadan.
“Sometimes, we receive prank calls that waste time and effort.
“If we cannot locate the emergency, we will double check the information received with the operations centre.
“We will still conduct a thorough search before calling the operations off,” he said.
Muhammad urged the public to exercise caution while preparing food.
“Residents and food operators tend to cook more during the fasting period. In some cases, fires can happen due to carelessness or electricity overload,” he said.