Caught between two extremes – fire and floods

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JOHOR BARU: With heavy rain causing flooding or extremely hot conditions causing wildfires, firefighters have their hands full trying to manage two different extremes caused by changing weather conditions.

The fire and rescue service is now monitoring dozens of flood-prone areas and wildfire hotspots across the country, particularly in Selangor, Pahang, Perak, Penang, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak, its official said. general manager Datuk Seri Mohammad Hamdan Wahid.

“All of our 12,500 staff at 327 fire stations across the country have been put on alert as the Department of Meteorology says the southwest monsoon is expected to bring a dry spell through September.

“However, due to climate change, we have also received reports of flooding in parts of Selangor,” he said after presenting certificates to outstanding firefighters and volunteer firefighters here yesterday.

Mohammad Hamdan said the department is monitoring hotspots, especially around forests, areas of peat soil and landfills.

He added that the department would use drones to conduct surveillance around hotspots, as this would allow it to identify the exact areas in need of firefighting and effectively channel manpower.

He also urged landfill operators to be careful and ensure fires do not break out at their locations as extinguishing fires there was extremely difficult as it would be labor intensive and heavy machinery, as such fires could occur deep below the surface.

“We also have to be careful about the toxic gases emitted at these places, which can be dangerous for the nearby population,” he said.

He also said most wildfires in the country were primarily “man-made”, caused by those clearing land for agricultural activities or by hikers and campers.

“People should also refrain from slash and burn cultivation activities during the drought period as it can lead to haze if it gets out of hand,” he said.

Asked about a Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) student who was found dead in her hostel room after being electrocuted, Mohammad Hamdan said the department would carry out its own investigations.

He advised people to be careful not to have too many extension points from a grab point as it could be dangerous.

“People need to check their electrical appliances because some, like water heaters, have a lifespan.

“We have cases where a husband is electrocuted because of a faulty water heater and the wife who comes to save him is shocked as well, leading to their death,” he said.

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