80 firefighters battle Belait forest fire

National 2 minutes, 45 seconds

BELAIT

AROUND 80 firefighters from various fire stations in Belait have been deployed to combat the forest fire which has spread across KM15, KM14 and KM13 of the Seria bypass within two days.

The number of firefighters deployed is a spike from the previous 25 people manning the operations as previously reported in The Brunei Times.

Commander of the Incident Command Post Muhd Ali Hassan said that with the fire now spreading towards more areas, he was not able to estimate how many hectares of land is affected, but with more manpower, firefighters can be focused on operating in one area.

At the moment, he said the Fire and Rescue Department and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces are looking into getting an aerial view of the situation so they would know how to better approach the fire.

ICP Commander Muhd Ali said that within two days since February 23, the ICP has been able to divide areas of operations into four sectors, which was agreed upon during a meeting with all Fire and Rescue Station commanders in Belait with the Commanding Officer of Fire and Rescue Operations B Branch.

Sector one will be operations along the Highway servicing the Sg Bera Industrial site with 30 firefighters from Sungai Liang Industrial Park (SPARK) fire station in operation, and Sector two is around the Badas pipeline area with 15 firefighters from Sg Liang Fire Station manning the area.

Sector three is the areas along KM19, KM18 and KM21 of the Seria bypass, with 15 firefighters from Seria fire station manning the area and Sector four is along KM15, KM14 and KM13 of the highway, with 15 firefighters from Kuala Belait Fire Station operating.

In addition, five firefighters, said Muhd Ali, are tasked to man the ICP, coordinating the operations throughout the four sectors.

Firefighters will also be deployed 24 hours to man the operation, while some of them will also be given an off-in-lieu for working extra hours, and an off-day the next day to allow them to recuperate.

Muhd Ali also confirmed that a firefighter was admitted into the Suri Seri Begawan hospital after he reported of difficulties to breathe during one of the operations.

He said the firefighter began to feel the difficulty after coming back to the Badas pipeline area to continue extinguishing the fire there, after handling an emergency call and extinguishing another fire in one of the areas in Seria.

Muhd Ali said the firefighter was sent to hospital and upon diagnosis, doctors found he had been overexposed to smoke and had to stay one night at the hospital. He was later given two days off.

The ICP Commander said the safety gears were worn properly, and added that long exposure to smoke and fire would usually lead to this, as the firefighter had been deployed 24 hours.

“In this, people may see that our career is a challenging one, and of course our safety should first be prioritised,” he said.

“But looking at the conditions, as firefighters, we are tasked to ensure safety of the people, so that is why we will still be doing this, while at the same time ensuring that we will also be safe,” he added.

He expressed hope that people will also be aware of their responsibilities not to spark any fire by irresponsible burning of their trash.

The Brunei Times