KUCHING: Fire safety campaigns should be held regularly for traders and hawkers in the city, especially those operating within the heritage zone.
Kuching North City Hall (DBKU) commissioner Datuk Wee Hong Seng said this would help raise awareness on fire safety and reduce the occurrence of fire.
“This is important in areas like India Street where the buildings are over 100 years old and built back-to-back. Fire safety and awareness campaigns should be done regularly with the Fire and Rescue Department.
“It will be good for local councils to work together with the Fire Department on such campaigns so they can learn how to prevent and put out fires,” he said after attending a fire safety campaign at India Street Pedestrian Mall.
Wee said he would also propose to DBKU to make it a regulation for hawkers within its jurisdiction to attend fire safety courses.
“We can even consider making it compulsory for them to attend such courses before issuing licences. This is one way for us to help reduce the risk of fire,” he said.
In his speech earlier, Wee said the fire safety campaign at India Street was initiated by the Fire and Rescue Department in dialogues with DBKU.
“This is the first time we are doing this and I’m encouraged by the participation of over 100 people,” he said.
He told participants that it was their duty to prevent fire, not only to protect their property but to preserve the city’s heritage buildings.
“Bear in mind we are not only the owners of the shophouses here, we are also the custodians of Kuching’s heritage,” he said.
Wee said a fire in February 1884 burnt down 196 shophouses in the city while a more recent fire occurred in December 2009 at Gambier Street.
“I was involved in the rebuilding after a few fire incidents and it is not an easy task. So let’s not allow this to happen again.”
He also called on community associations to take the lead to instal fire extinguishers in common areas for use, in case of an emergency.
Kuching Zone Fire and Rescue Department chief Gregory Kurung Suwen said they welcomed efforts by the public to hold fire safety campaigns.
“I hope participants can use what they learnt to prevent fires.
“The most important thing is to call the Fire Department first, not take videos or pictures,” he said.
During the campaign, firemen demonstrated how to put out a stove-top fire by using a wet towel to cover the flames. They also taught participants on how to use a fire extinguisher.