GEORGE TOWN: Firemen here have all been equipped with life-saving equipment and assets ahead of the northeast monsoon, which usually begins in October.
Perak Road fire station deputy chief Fadzil Mohamad said they are monitoring not just the weather, but also the tide at sea and river water flows.
“Our boats and other assets are ready to be deployed in any eventuality, such as storms or floods.
“If it’s a yellow alert, we will go out on our own, but if it falls under a red alert, then the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) and state secretary’s office will be involved too.
“Besides the traditional ways of observation, we now also rely on digital data from various sources.
“We can even deploy a drone for an aerial view if needed, though we cannot fly a drone when it is raining – we’ll only use it once it stops pouring to check on sites hit by floods, landslides or any disaster,” he said in an interview.
Fadzil, who is also the station’s operations officer, said the station will also freeze the annual leave of its personnel if the need arises.
“We have 71 firemen here, and their leave could be frozen when there are signs of an impending storm.
“The usual months where we anticipate bad weather are between October and December,” he said.
Besides responding to emergencies, Fadzil said firemen will constantly be on the ground to provide public education and keep its assets in tip-top order for an immediate response.
“We advise the public on safety measures to take during storms or when river water levels rise.
“During storms at flood hotspots, we will intensify monitoring and may even arrive at the site to issue warnings to residents,” he said.
Fadzil said that thanks to upgraded drainage systems, flooding in many areas in Penang had been reduced over the years.
“However, there are still a few low-lying areas that experience flash floods,” he said.
At the station, firemen were seen conducting regular maintenance on the outboard motors of the boats and ensuring all machinery, including chainsaws, hydraulic spreaders and others, were in working order.