Johor govt: Bigger budget for fire dept needed for better equipment

Ben Tan
Johor Housing, Communication and Multimedia Committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad said that the state government will propose to reinforce the equipment used by the state’s Fire and Rescue Department. — Picture by Ben Tan

JOHOR BARU, Sept 6 — The Johor government will propose a budget to reinforce the equipment used by the Johor Fire and Rescue Department in preparing them for forest fires, especially those involving peat soil.

Johor Housing, Communication and Multimedia Committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad said that having proper firefighting apparatus was important as he found that some equipment was inadequate when dealing with peat fires in particular.

“In my assessment of the Fire Department’s work in extinguishing fires, I found that the firemen lacked equipment such as All Terrain Vehicles (ATV), excavators, high volume and high-pressure water pumps,” he said when met today.

Dzulkefly was referring to the recent fire that engulfed 16 hectares of forest in Kampung Pekajang near Gelang Patah where firefighting work was hampered by the lack of proper equipment causing the blaze to last for several days.

The Kota Iskandar assemblyman suggested that the state government focus on supplying proper equipment to the department to better combat forest fires in peat soil areas, such as Gelang Patah.

Most of the land on Johor’s west consists of peat-type soil.

Dzulkefly also said that the state government will undertake to identify sources of water for potential fire hazard areas.

“Yes, peat soil areas can be a fire risk during the hot season during the south-west monsoon. As such, the government will identify measures to obtain alternative water sources for the area.

“If a particular place is far from water sources such as rivers, we will identify other sources such as groundwater to douse fires or alternatively, build fire-breakers in the form of water drains,” said Dzulkefly.

On September 2, the state government announced that the integrated operation to put out the forest fire that had ravaged 16 hectares near Gelang Patah had ended after 13 days.

The decision was made following the state Fire and Rescue Department’s success in extinguishing 99 per cent of the fire.

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