Lack of fire safety awareness has killed hundreds, cost nation billions, says Bomba chief

KUALA LUMPUR: A lack of awareness about fire safety has killed hundreds and led to billions of ringgit in losses, says the Fire and Rescue Department.

At the open day on Saturday (Feb 4) at the Hang Tuah fire station, Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Hamdan Wahid (pic) said that around RM3.2bill in losses related to fires was recorded in 2022.

"That means it's around RM180,000 a day that gets 'burned'. It is a waste because we don't have safety awareness. We recorded around 300 drownings last year as well. They were youths and kids that could have been leaders of the country," he said.

He added that there were around 130 deaths connected to fires in 2022.

Mohammad Hamdan lamented that Malaysians tend to only take safety awareness seriously after tragedies.

"Our culture here is that people only start to realise after a huge tragedy. For example, after the Batang Kali landslide incident, people started talking about how there shouldn't have been a campsite there.

"The awareness lasts only for a short period after a big tragedy but as a whole, we see that the level for fire safety awareness nationwide is still low," he said.

He added that work is underway to reach the department's 2030 goal to raise the level of awareness.

"Our target is to raise awareness so that 60% of Malaysians are able to help their neighbours if there is an emergency or fire before a firefighting team arrives," he said.

The event on Saturday saw about 500 students from eight schools visiting the fire station while also participating in fire awareness games.

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