Public Service Department director-general Datuk Mohd Khairul Adib Abd Rahman said establishing a southern region air base would be part of the government’s efforts to improve the Fire and Rescue Department’s emergency and rescue services.
“The government is continuously working towards improving emergency response time and serve the people better.
“Such a facility will be an asset amid rapid ongoing developments in Johor.
“It will be built near the airport.
“This project will be proposed under the 12th Malaysia Plan and carried out if budget permits,” said Mohd Khairul during a working visit to the Sungai Rengit fire station here.
At present, he said the department has three air bases in the country, located in Subang, Bertam and Miri.
As for other developments, he said the government planned to build another 29 fire stations by 2022 to add to the current 318 fire stations throughout the country.
Mohd Khairul said the government was also considering the need to expand the firefighting force in Pengerang due to its close proximity to an oil and gas facility here.
He said the Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC) and its surrounding areas were exposed to risks due to the nature of the facility.
“Although the operators at PIC have their own rescue team to handle emergencies, as required by the government, we will still study the need for additional firefighting personnel and assets to cover not only the facility but the whole of Pengerang.
“The issue of safety cannot be taken lightly as two explosions have occurred at the facility within a year,” he said, referring to the incidents in April last year and in March this year where five people died.
Mohd Khairul said there were four fire stations in the area, in Penawar, Sungai Rengit, Sebana Cove and Punggai.
During his visit to the Sungai Rengit fire station, he gave out badges to six firefighters who had completed a 14-month training stint to obtain a commercial pilot licence.
One of them who had successfully completed the training was Robert James, 34.
He said the training, originally scheduled for 12 months, had taken an extra two months because of the movement control order imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Robert, from the Kuala Lumpur Fire and Rescue Department, said he felt a great sense of satisfaction as he had realised two of his biggest dreams – becoming a firefighter and a pilot.
“For as long as I can remember, I wanted to become a pilot.
“It was a dream come true for me when I was accepted into the department’s Air Division,” said Robert who is from Telupid in Sabah.
He said with the pilot licence, he could now take part in rescue missions such as aerial firefighting, medical evacuation and body evacuation as well as search and rescue efforts.
The six firefighters underwent a total of 137 hours of theory and flying before obtaining the badge.
Muhammad Akmal Uddin, 29, the youngest in the batch, said his most memorable experience throughout the training period was when he flew solo for the first time.“Before that, we flew with an instructor for an accumulated 20 hours before we got to fly on our own.
“I will never forget the feeling of piloting the helicopter myself,” he said.
The Taiping-born firefighter, who was previously a fire investigation officer at the Penang Fire and Rescue Department, said he was excited to assume his new role and hoped to serve the country as best as possible.
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