THE government should reconsider the proposal to improve the welfare of Fire and Rescue Department personnel, including approving the critical allowance.
It was recently reported that the critical allowance, which will benefit more than 14,000 firefighters throughout the country, may not be given out this year.
Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin was quoted as saying that apart from approval from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, there are other matters that have to be looked at, including the country’s finances before looking into this issue.
The proposal to introduce better perks for firemen should be supported by all because their task is currently as challenging and demanding as other important agencies.
As a report by national news agency Bernama indicated, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah himself has expressed concern for the needs and welfare of firemen, including the critical allowance (online at /bit.ly/ bernama_firemen).
It was also reported that if the critical allowance is implemented this year, an estimated RM18mil is needed to be distributed to firemen at a rate of RM200 a month.
Many of us are still unaware or do not understand how challenging the task and workload of Fire and Rescue Department members are, especially those who are involved in fire-fighting and rescue operations.
The department is also responsible for enforcing laws relating to safety and fire prevention as well as providing efficient and effective humanitarian services.
Firemen’s close relationships with the public and various reports on their selfless acts have made them the first choice to contact when the public needs help in various situations, including accidents and natural disasters such as floods and landslides.
Firefighters are frequently involved in search and rescue operations when people get lost in jungles and in drowning cases.
The ability of the department’s members in such operations cannot be disputed, as they have the skills and appropriate equipment, such as hydraulic cutting tools, for example, which are used to extricate accident victims in badly mangled vehicles.
The department also has skilled personnel who regularly help save pets, capture dangerous wild animals and destroy hornet and bee nests located where they could harm people.
The government should also provide sufficient allocation for human resource development so that they can maintain high technical and effective skills to handle any emergency case.
Sufficient allocation should also be given to the department for the purchase of advanced machinery and equipment while the latest personal protective equipment must be provided.
I also hope that continuous efforts can be made to improve the workplace and housing of the personnel and their families so that they can focus on work while their families are able to live in a conducive environment.
The time has come for us to reward Fire and Rescue Department personnel who are willing to sacrifice their lives to ensure the safety of others, especially during fires and natural disasters.
This would be in line with the theme for the International Firefighters’ Day 2019 celebrations that were held yesterday, “Fire Brigade, the Pillar of National Rescue”.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE