LETTER | The government should consider the proposal to improve the welfare of the Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) personnel including approving the critical allowance.
The issue must be deliberated thoroughly and hopefully, the government could include the salary increment and critical allowance for firemen in next year's budget if it cannot be introduced this year.
It was recently reported that the critical allowance which will benefit more than 14,000 firefighters throughout the country may not be given out this year.
Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin was quoted as saying that other than the approval from Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, there were other procedures which had to be looked at including the country’s finances.
The proposal to introduce better perks for firemen should be supported by all because their task is currently as challenging as other important agencies.
The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah himself has expressed his concern for the needs and welfare of firemen including the critical allowance.
I hope the government will give immediate consideration to the critical allowance which will benefit 14,500 members of the department.
It was reported that if implemented this year, an estimated RM18 million is needed to be distributed to firemen at a rate of RM200 a month.
Many of us are still unaware or do not understand how challenging the task and workload of the Fire and Rescue Department are especially those who are involved in fire-fighting operations.
The department is also responsible for enforcing laws relating to safety and fire prevention as well as providing efficient and effective humanitarian services.
Firemen's close relationships with the public and various reports on their selfless acts have made them the first choice to contact when the public needs help for various situations including accidents and natural disasters such as floods and landslides.
Firefighters are frequently involved in search and rescue operations for those who get lost in jungles and also in drowning cases.
The ability of the department's personnel in such operations cannot be disputed as they have the appropriate equipment such as hydraulic cutting tools to help extricate accident victims from badly-mangled vehicles. They also have skilled personnel who could help save pets, capture poisonous animals and destroy hornet and bee nests.
The government should also provide sufficient allocation for human resource development so that they have high technical and effective skills to handle any emergency case.
Sufficient allocation should also be given to the department for the purchase of advanced machinery and equipment while the latest personal protective equipment (PPE) must be provided for all relevant personnel.
I also hope that continuous efforts can be made to improve the workplace and housing of Fire and Rescue Department personnel and their families so that they can focus on work while their families are able to live in a conducive environment.
The time has come for us to reward firemen who are willing to sacrifice their lives to ensure the safety of others especially during fires and other types of natural disasters.
This is also in line with the theme for the International Firefighters’ Day 2019 celebrations this year - "Fire Brigade the Pillar of National Rescue" - which were graced by Sultan Abdullah and the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah at Dataran Merdeka yesterday.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.