KUALA KUBU BARU: They are frequently in the news, catching venomous snakes at private homes, going into thick jungles in search and rescue operations and doing what they are known best for, putting out fires.
The job of a fireman has long been regarded as thankless, and perhaps less feted by the public compared to the police and the military.
But heroic stories, such as that of firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim whose death plunged the nation into mourning, remind us now and then on the work of the people we call out for in times of distress.
There is currently a steady stream of applicants for the job, with some 57,000 candidates waiting to be selected for training.
Central Region Fire and Rescue Academy (ABPM) commandant Md Ali Ismail says when a fireman dies in an attempt to help people, he is seen as a hero who inspires the masses.
“The deaths of these fallen heroes seem to motivate and inspire others to help people. A fireman who dies on duty is held in high regard by everyone,” he told FMT in an interview recently.
Adib died early last week due to injuries allegedly inflicted by a mob outside the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in USJ25, Subang Jaya.
Ali said Adib’s death not only united the country but also inspired many to join the Fire and Rescue Department, more popularly known as Bomba.
Ali, who heads Bomba’s main training academy here, said next year, some 1,100 would undergo training to become firemen and another 600 for reserves.
They are drawn from a massive pool of 57,000 candidates who applied to be firemen to the Public Service Commission (SPA).
“They will undergo a physical endurance test first. Those who make it will be called again for an oral test,” he said.
Ali said the fire department had proven its dedication to service.
There is also an increase in the number of assistant officers who are tasked with working with permanent employees at Class D category fire stations.
These assistants aspire to be full-fledged firemen after serving in the department.
“We started building Class D category fire stations a few years ago to cater to basic fire and rescue operations.
“Firemen there are placed on duty with assistant officers who are paid an allowance rather than salary,” he said.
In 2018 alone, besides Adib, seven other firemen lost their lives while performing their duties.
They include the six bomba divers who drowned on Oct 3 after they were caught in a whirlpool during a search-and-rescue operation in a mining pond in Puchong.
On March 16, fireman Abu Zarin Hussin, known for his slick snake-catching abilities, was bitten by a cobra during an operation in Bentong.