‘Water bomber’ aircraft, medevac helicopter for firefighters

A “water bomber” aircraft belonging to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency was used to help fight a fire in Sumatra in 2015 and in Miri last month. (mmea.gov.my pic)

KUCHING: The government plans to purchase a Bombardier “water bomber” aircraft and a helicopter for “medevac” (medical evacuation) purposes by the Fire and Rescue Department).

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said the aircraft and helicopter, which the fire department had not yet acquired, were essential, especially when it came to evacuating victims in the rural areas, and to put out forest fires.

The ministry would also consider procuring the latest firefighting equipment if necessary for the department’s use.

“I will be going to Italy in the near future to see the effectiveness of the machinery or equipment used in firefighting. Italy is the model country in addressing fires, so we will go there to witness the demonstration of the assets,” she said.

Malaysia already has a Bombadier CL 415 MP aircraft belonging to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, which has been used for firefighting. The aircraft was used in April 2015 to help fight a fire in Sumatra by scooping up water and bombing the fire site, and in Miri, Sarawak, last month.

Zuraida was speaking to reporters after handing over 1,000 fire extinguishers to the Sarawak fire department to be distributed to longhouses in remote areas.

State director Khirudin Drahman said firefighters find it difficult to arrive early at the location of fires, especially in the interior. Longhouses equipped with fire extinguishers could tackle the fire at the initial stage and avoid property losses, he said.