KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 – Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Sunday advised aid agencies and teams to review their standard operating procedure (SOP) in preparing themselves to handle large-scale disasters. He said they must also upgrade their capabilities in terms of mechanisms and logistics and conduct joint training. “From my observation, the country must undertake thorough preparation and planning to handle disasters,” he said when addressing a gathering in conjunction with the International Firefighters’ Day at Dataran Merdeka here. He said he was impressed with the determination shown by every aid agency during the last severe floods which struck Kuantan in Pahang and Kemaman in Terengganu.

Muhyiddin said the aid agencies and teams could put their SOP to the test with regular joint training so as to be able to act in a more concerted and systematic manner during disasters. The deputy prime minister drew attention to the 50 per cent success rate of the 10-minute response time adopted by the Fire and Rescue Department. He said that though the rate was much lower than the 80 per cent achieved in developed countries, the government realised that an inhibiting factor was the uneven distribution of fire and rescue stations and personnel.

As such, he said, the government had agreed to the setting up of auxiliary firefighters who would be paid an allowance similar to that enjoyed by auxiliary policemen and personnel of the Department of Civil Defence, People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) and Territorial Army. “The Fire and Rescue Department will provide adequate training to these auxiliary firefighters to enable them execute their duty efficiently along with the regular firefighters,” he said. In a symbolic gesture, Muhyiddin accepted the appointment of three women auxiliary firefighters in conjunction with the launch of the recruitment. Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan and Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim were also present at the event.

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