MIRI: The Penans of Long Kevok settlement, located in the deep interior of northern Sarawak, have set up their own voluntary firefighting unit - a first among the Penan community in Sarawak.
The successful set up of the emergency response team was the result of intense training and cooperation between Bomba and the rakyat, said Miri Fire and Rescue Department chief Supt Law Poh Kiong on Tuesday (Feb 18).
"This is the first time that the Penans have formed such a firefighting squad.
"It is the result of the hard work of our Bomba ground teams and the Penan community," added Supt Law.
Bomba trainers spent several days in Long Kevok to train the Penans on ways to swiftly handle and put out fire incidents while maintaining personal safety.
The Rurum Kelabit Association hopes that rural settlements will be given the complete set of fire extinguishers, water pumps and long hoses to enable villagers to act as first responders.
A few major disasters were averted thanks to the swift and efficient response by longhouse folk who were trained in emergency response skills by Bomba Sarawak.
Last year, coordinated action by villagers prevented a longhouse fire in interior northern Sarawak from spreading.
There were 87 families living adjacent to one another in the longhouse settlement of Rumah Sg Selep in Bakong.
The longhouse's ERT (emergency response team) used the fire extinguishers, water pump and long hose given by Bomba to fight the blaze.
The association's Miri chairman Dick Bala said Bomba Sarawak has been holding regular trainings for villagers, longhouse folk and schoolchildren to deal with fire outbreaks and other emergencies.
"We natives hope that every household can be given at least one fire extinguisher.
"Every longhouse should be given a few big pumps and hoses that can suck up water from the rivers.
"The Bakong incident showed that it pays to be trained and fully equipped to fight any fire outbreak," he said.
The Rurum Kelabit is the umbrella body for the 10,000 plus minority Kelabits in Sarawak.
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