BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei: Due to heightened public awareness and preparedness in fire safety, there were less emergency calls (459 or seven per cent) in 2020, compared to 2019.
In 2020, there were 6, 759 emergency calls, compared to 7, 218 in 2019.
Structural fire calls also witnessed a reduction of 16 per cent, while property damage was also down by 35 per cent in 2020, compared to 2019.
Meanwhile, the amount of losses recorded in 2019 totalled BND5, 070, 150, compared to BND 3, 293, 974.43 in 2020.
The accomplishments of the Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) were highlighted by Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Abu Bakar Apong, during the department’s 61st anniversary celebration held yesterday at the FRD Headquarters.
The minister said, “Since its establishment, the FRD has played a role in providing loyal service to the country to ensure public safety, such as extinguishing fires, saving lives and property.
“We have witnessed several developments, innovations and achievements achieved by the FRD, especially in the field of duties and responsibilities, for maintaining public safety and well-being.
He added, “Alhamdulillah, we are grateful that there has been an increase in the number of people who deeply care about the safety of property and life. The response from the public towards public safety and awareness programme implemented by the FRD, from time to time, has been encouraging.
“In 2000, 21, 108 participants from government agencies and private sector were involved in various public safety programmes such as briefings, Lifesaver 995 and the Fire Marshall Drill.
“In 2020, there were 1, 564 appointed fire marshals from the government and private sectors. Such programmes have already shown results, where we have already heard and seen the involvement of the public in helping in putting out small fires before the arrival of firefighters on the scene.
“The involvement of the public in this issue increased by 62 per cent, which is 87 people in 2020, compared to only 33 in 2019.
“Up to April 2020, 30 members of the public received Community Excellence certificates. We greatly appreciate the role of the public who proactively assist the FRD as first-responders. It also reflects the caring attitude and awareness among the public, that fire safety is a shared responsibility.
“The FRD’s achievement in Response Time to structural fire incident has been encouraging, by recording 85.5 per cent, which exceeded the target expectation of 80 per cent.
“The FRD is constantly collaborating with stakeholders and public in carrying out continuous patrols to monitor any forest or bush fires, and so on. Through this synergy, calls in tackling forest fires were successfully reduced by 53 per cent last year.
“Taking into account the ever-changing environment, in line with current needs and requirements, especially towards the government’s expenditure policy, namely through Fiscal Consolidation, the FRD has not been left behind in the increasing efforts to save costs and the department’s administration, in terms of utility expenses. Alhamdulillah, in 2020, the increase in savings was 19.31 per cent, compared to 9.7 per cent in 2019.
“The FRD is an important agency, which also plays a role in jointly providing assistance for the safety and well-being of the country’s citizens and residents.
“This was evident when the country was initially confronted with the Covid-19 pandemic, during which the department also provided sanitation assistance in curbing the spread of the pandemic, through helping to control the immigration control posts of Sungai Tujoh in the Belait district and Labu in the Temburong district, along with several isolation centres and public places.”
The minister also congratulated all FRD members on their achievements in jointly preserving the well-being of the country’s people and residents, “The decrease in call statistics for 2020, as well as the savings and implementation of the Fiscal Consolidation is an achievement and success, as well as proof that the FRD is always proactive and plays its role efficiently.