QuickCheck: Is Bomba an acronym for Badan Operasi Mencegah Bencana Alam?

Would you be surprised to learn that the name Bomba is an acronym? Our heroes in red have had many names throughout its history. It evolved from the Volunteer Fire Brigade (1883) to the Malaysia Fire and Rescue Department (1997).

The name Bomba was officially used after a concerted effort to find a Malaysian name for the fire brigade in 1961. Could the result be an acronym? Would it reflect Bomba’s expanding responsibility that goes beyond just putting out fires? Does Bomba stand for Badan Operasi Mencegah Bencana Alam?



The name Bomba was derived from the Portuguese word for their fire brigade, bombeiros. Perhaps it is no coincidence that according to the fourth edition of the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) dictionary, bomba also means a water pump for a well.

According to historians, the first documented use of the name Bomba in a document was discovered in a letter to the government of Kedah dated Sept 12, 1922. It used the term Bomba Ayer (literally water pump) to refer to the volunteer fire brigade.

In 1961, during the first National Language month, three fire and rescue officers and an officer from DBP took on the task of translating the name fire brigade and other technical terms associated with it.

Based on the retelling of one of the fire and rescue officers, the name pasukan api, which is the direct translation of fire brigade, was considered. Another name considered was gumba (a type of pump). Thankfully, they went with Bomba. Can you imagine our fire and rescue department sharing the same sounding name as the mushroom critters in Super Mario?

Bonus Fact: Ultra Seven’s Emerium Beam pose, with his right foot forward, left foot back, right arm across the chest, and left elbow pulled back, is similar to how a firefighter holds a fire hose.




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