KUALA LUMPUR - Agencies involved in disaster management should review their standard operating procedures (SOPs) so they can handle large-scale disasters, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.
"Our country needs to have more enhanced preparation and planning to face future disasters, especially big ones.
"I urge all agencies involved in disaster management to review their SOPs and if necessary, enhance their mechanism and logistic capabilities to face large scale disasters," he said at the World Fire Fighters' Day celebration here yesterday, which included parades and rescue demonstrations.
He urged disaster and aid agencies to conduct more frequent training sessions to test out their SOPs and logistics.
Noting that the country had suffered losses amounting to RM1bil in fires, he called on the public to have a higher level of awareness on safety and not be lackadaisical towards fires.
Yesterday, Muhyiddin also launched the auxiliary fire fighters programme.
"The people are encouraged to register and be part of the team. The Fire and Rescue Department will provide the necessary training to help them carry out their necessary duties," he added.
He said the auxiliary fire fighters could help increase the success rate of the targeted 10-minute response time from the current 50 per cent to 80 per cent.
He attributed the current 50 per cent rate to uneven distribution of fire stations and firemen to high risk areas.
Muhyiddin said fire fighters were heroes whose effort and sacrifices in helping victims of accidents, fires and disasters should be appreciated.
"They do their best to save the victims without thinking about their own safety. They are the true heroes," he said.
Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said fire fighters had contributed greatly to the nation and had saved lives and property regardless of race and religion.
"Do not take them for granted. We need to recognise our nation's heroes," said Abdul Rahman, in remembering those who had lost their lives or suffered injuries while in service.
As for the auxiliary firemen, Abdul Rahman said their target was to recruit 15,000 within the next 10 years.
He said some would be on standby duty at fire stations while others would be on call.
"There are currently 13,000 fire fighters in the country," he said, adding the Fire and Rescue Department received and responded to 66,000 emergency calls last year.
Department director-general Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim said the auxiliary service would help reduce the ratio of fire fighters per population from 1:2500 to 1:1000.
The auxiliary fire fighters would be paid RM6 per hour, the same rate for auxiliary policemen and other personnel such as Rela, he added.
Shahrul Azri Aziz, who was among the first three to be recruited and recognised yesterday, said he was honoured to be part of the programme.
"I feel excited to help serve the country and fight fires. It has been my passion since young," the 29-year-old said.
Mohd Najib Norizan, 18, whose interest was sparked from his school days, said his family fully supported his decision.