Public should contact fire stations instead of posting disparaging comments online

MIRI: Complaining about wildfires on social media and criticising the authorities online are not going to be useful in dealing with this “burning” issue that is cropping up yet again in northern Sarawak.

The Fire and Rescue Department stations here are dealing with more cases of wildfires but at the same time, they are also being hit by negative comments on social media by members of the public irritated by air pollution.

Miri department chief Supt Law Poh Kiong said hurling criticisms and playing up bad publicity against the Fire and Rescue Department on cyberspace would not help them tackle the problem.

“Members of the public should instead channel useful information to the department,” he said.

“There are those who choose to vent their frustration about these wildfires through Facebook but this is not going to help solve anything.

“Those who spot these fires must call the nearest fire station and give detailed information to enable our fire-fighters to respond fast,” Supt Law said.

He reiterated that if any of their officers was found to be slow in reacting to public complaints, the department would take disciplinary actions against the officer.

“It is not going to be helpful to anyone if all we get are criticisms and bad publicity. We need the help of the public to stop these wildfires,” he added.

Unscrupulous people are apparently setting off wildfires yet again in the swathe of vacant land in the Kuala Baram district in northern Sarawak and other parts of Miri and Bintulu districts.

Several wildfires were raging in stretches of forested area in the Kuala Baram district near the Sarawak-Brunei border since last week as well as in other districts including in Mukah.

There are unscrupulous people taking advantage of the hot weather to set off fires to clear the land.

Kuala Baram especially has become notorious for wildfires that resulted in episodes of air pollution during dry season every year.

Supt Law said the latest episodes of wildfires had resulted in the department sending more teams to the ground.

“Our men are still on the ground to try to make sure no more fires break out,” he said.

On Monday alone, the fire stations in Miri and Lopeng had to tackle wildfires that raged in four different locations in Taman Tunku, Lutong, Piasau and Krokop, he added.