DG: Open burning a strain on resources (Poll Inside)

Tough to tame: A large fire smouldering at the Lubok Jong landfill in Kelantan. — Bernama

KUALA NERUS: Open burning for land clearing purposes, even for legal reasons, poses the risk of creating a “protection vacuum” for the Fire and Rescue Department.

Its director-general Datuk Nor Hisham Mohammad said although some people may have good intentions in burning areas to keep the place tidy, firefighters will have to respond if the flames get out of control.

“When we respond to fires in these tall grass and bush areas, it usually takes a while and involves a lot of department logistics.

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“This causes a protection vacuum for the safety of structural fires in urban or settlement areas. It forces us to reassign personnel,” he told reporters after handing out service and excellence awards to Terengganu department staff here yesterday, according to Bernama.

Nor Hisham also advised the public not to indiscriminately conduct open burning as an easy way to clear agricultural land, especially in BRIS (Beach Ridges Interspersed with Swales) soil areas.

“In Terengganu, for example, the risk of peat fires is low, only around Kemaman and the border with Kuantan, Pahang. However, fires in BRIS areas are a significant risk because they involve many locations.

“If there is cooperation from the community from the early stages, we expect that (protection) vacuum to decrease. I urge everyone to be aware of the expected dry season until March to collectively reduce the risk of fires in open areas,” he said.

He also said the department would focus on more than 605 locations at risk of open-area fires. They include peat areas, illegal dumpsites, and waste disposal sites.

Terengganu recorded the highest number of such fires last year, totalling 1,008 cases, compared with 384 cases in 2022 and 658 cases in 2021.

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