Climate change will cause more floods, forest fires in Malaysia, says Bomba chief

Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Hamdan Wahid presenting a certificate of excellence to widow Nurul Janah Abd Hamid khan. She took the certificate on behalf of her husband firemen Mohd Firdaus Sulaiman, who died after a fire operation in Segamat. Looking on is Johor fire director Datuk Yahaya Madis (left).

JOHOR BARU: The changes in weather patterns is expected to either bring about heavy rainfall resulting in floods or extremely hot conditions resulting in forest fires, says Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Hamdan Wahid.

He said that the department was monitoring dozens of flood and forest fire hotspots around the country.

"All our 12,500 personnel from all 327 fire stations nationwide have been put on alert as the Malaysian Meteorology Department says the Southwest Monsoon is expected to bring about a dry spell until September.

"However, due to climate change, we have been getting reports of flooding in some parts of Selangor as well," he said after presenting excellence service certificates to 105 firemen and 18 volunteer firefighters here.

Mohammad Hamdan said that they were monitoring hotspots around forests, peat soil areas and landfills.

He said that the department would use drones to carry out surveillance around hotspots as this would allow them to identify the exact areas which require firefighting and to channel their manpower.

He also urged landfill operators to be wary and ensure fires do not start at their locations as extinguishing landfill fires was extremely challenging, needing a lot of manpower and heavy machinery as fires could burn deep below the surface.

'We also need to be careful about toxic gases being emitted at these places which can be dangerous to the nearby population," he said, adding that such operations would require coordination from various agencies.

He added that most of the forest fires around the country were mainly man-made due to land clearing for agriculture activities or those going hiking or camping.

"People should not carry out slash-and-burn activities during the dry spell as it can lead to haze if it gets out of hand," he said, adding that such activities in a neighbouring country had resulted in the region experiencing bad air quality regionally in 1997 and 2015.

Asked about the Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) student who was found dead in her hostel room from possible electrocution, Mohammad Hamdan said that they were investigating the matter.

However, he advised people to be careful not to have too many extension points from one plug point as this was dangerous.

"People also need to check their electrical appliances as some, like water heaters, have a lifespan.

"We have seen cases where a husband is electrocuted due to a faulty water heater and the wife who comes to save him also receives an electric shock, resulting in both their deaths," he said, adding that it was good to get an electrician to come and check their appliances occasionally.

In the incident on Monday (May 23), second year accounting student Vinosiny Sivakumar, 21, was found dead in her hostel room, with police classifying the case as sudden death.

A video uploaded to YouTube alleged she had died from an electric shock.

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