KUALA NERUS: Open burning for land clearing purposes, even if for bona fide reasons, poses the risk of creating a ‘protection vacuum’ for the Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM).

JBPM director-general Datuk Nor Hisham Mohammad (pix)

said although some individuals may have good intentions in burning areas to keep the place tidy, once the flames go out of control, firefighters will still have to respond once it is reported.

“I worry that when we respond to fires in these lalang (tall grass) and bush areas, it usually takes a long period, including involving a lot of department logistics.

“This causes a protection vacuum in terms of the safety of structural fires in urban or settlement areas. It forces us to reassign personnel,” he told newsmen after handing out service and excellence awards to Terengganu JBPM staff here today.

Hisham also advised the public not to indiscriminately conduct open burning as an easy way to clear agricultural land, especially in BRIS (Beach Ridges Interspersed with Swales) soil areas.

“In Terengganu, for example, the risk of peat fires is low, only around Kemaman and the border with Kuantan, Pahang. However, fires in BRIS areas are a major risk because they involve many locations.

“So, if from the early stages, there is cooperation from the community, we expect that (protection) vacuum to decrease. I urge everyone to be aware of the dry season that we expect until March to collectively reduce the risk of fires in open areas,” he said.

Also read: Elderly woman assaulted for reprimanding neighbour about open burning

He also said JBPM would focus on more than 605 locations at risk for open-area fires.

They include peat areas, illegal dumpsites, and waste disposal sites supervised by local authorities.

Terengganu recorded the highest number of such fires last year, totaling 1,008 cases compared to 384 cases in 2022 and 658 cases in 2021. -Bernama

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