Drones to monitor open burning nationwide


BATU KAWAN: The Fire and Rescue Department will use drones to monitor open burning hotspots throughout the country to tackle the annual haze problem that made a return since early this week. Its director-general Mohammad Hamdan Wahid said the drones would be used in selected areas to make it easier for firefighters to provide information on open burning to the relevant authorities, particularly the Department of Environment (DOE). He said both departments had previously carried out checks using helicopters, but with the use of the latest technology, it would provide more options of monitoring methods for both agencies. “We believe that the DOE also has their own drones to monitor the situation. As a rescue agency, we will continue to furnish the relevant information and be prepared at all times to face any eventualities such as open burning which can further aggravate the haze situation. “This is an annual occurrence, especially when there is open burning in our neighbouring country. “However, to minimise the impact, we have to play our part in tackling the open burning activities (here), particularly in peatland forests because whenever there is a fire in peatland forests, we face great challenges in putting it out,” he said in his official working visit to the state Fire and Rescue Department headquarters here today. During his visit, Hamdan also launched the ‘Fly the Jalur Gemilang’ campaign in conjunction with the National Day celebration before a dialogue session with officers and personnel here. Elaborating on the issue, Hamdan said each state has its own open burning hotspots. “In Selangor, for example, the hotspots include Sepang, Batu Arang and Batang Berjuntai while in Penang, Bukit Bendera. “For Sepang, we have to monitor the situation closely since it is a sensitive area, for aircrafts to land and take off. If haze happens at a critical level, then this can affect the navigation system at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA),” he added. Meanwhile, Hamdan said the Fire and Rescue Department would introduce the ‘Metropolitan Fire Brigade’, similar to the one implemented in Australia, come 2025. “Through my visits to all the state Fire and Rescue Department headquarters nationwide, (I found that) there are numerous needs to be looked into, especially the role towards society who need our services to effectively handle safety cases. “As such, we feel that the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, based in Kuala Lumpur, is most apt in our move towards a develop nation, to ensure we give better focus to cases in major towns with high density population and more complex system,” he said. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd