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clock 24-07-2019
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New Longhouse Design to Reduce Fire Hazards

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The Fire and Rescue Department will propose a new design for longhouses in Sarawak to make them more fireproof.

Fire Safety division director Edwin Gala Teruki (pic) said this was part of a plan by a task force set up to tackle fires at longhouses in the state.

“We are collaborating with the state government, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and the Malaysia Architects Association in Sarawak on the new design,” he said in an interview.

He added the new design would consider all aspects of fire safety, including construction material, fire breaks between units and kitchen and electrical wiring. He said that such features were often missing in traditional and modern longhouse designs.

But the department would not make it compulsory for buildings to adhere to the new specifications anytime soon as fire safety awareness needed to be spread first, he stressed.There have been several reports of longhouse fires in Sarawak this year, which have left hundreds homeless. It was reported that the fires claimed one life.

According to department statistics, fires have so far destroyed 10 longhouses and other traditional-

type houses in Sarawak this year.

A total of 27 longhouses were destroyed last year.

Edwin said a similar task force would spread fire safety awareness at water villages in Sabah.

Separately, he said 5,469 out of 9,093 designated buildings, including government buildings nationwide, had valid fire certificates while the rest were in the process of applying for one.He said fire certificates, which should be renewed annually, proved that a building had working fire safety measures in place.

Currently, fire certificates are required for designated buildings such as libraries, hospitals and home treatment facilities, hotels, hostels and dormitories, offices, shops, factories, assembly areas as well as storage and general areas.He said the department was looking to expand the list to include buildings of similar nature.

He said buildings may also be required to have trained people in a Fire Safety Organisation (FSO) in a designated building as a condition for renewing a fire certificate.

The FSO will be led by a trained fire manager who is certified and appointed by the department, and who will have the power to conduct fire safety inspections and fire drills.

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