Rise in emergency calls last year

James Kon

A total of 7,218 emergency calls were received in 2019, an increase by 802 calls, compared to 2018 at 6,414, according to Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) statistics.

Emergency calls for vehicle fires and building fires saw an increase in 2019 with 91 cases of vehicle fires and 52 house fires, compared to 64 vehicle fires and 39 house fires in 2018.

An increase in house collapse emergency calls were also reported in 2019 at 11 cases as compared to four cases in 2018.

Emergency calls for vehicle accidents remained at 32 for both years.

It was also reported that there was a slight reduction in emergency calls for house fire and gas leakage. Seventy-seven emergency calls of house fire were reported in 2019, a decrease from 79 calls in 2018 while for gas leakage, 30 cases were reported in 2019 at 32 in 2018.

Despite the increase in the number of emergency calls for building fire, the estimated cost of damages stand at BND917,730, a significant decrease from 2018 at BND5,836,690.

The estimated cost of damages for house fires, electrical fires and vehicle fires as well as gas leakage saw a significant jump.

In 2019, the estimated cost of damages were reported at BND4,152,420 compared to BND2,453,115 in 2018. The cost of electrical fire damages was estimated at BND975,715 in 2019, an increase from BND158,410 in 2018.

Meanwhile, the estimated cost of damages for vehicle fires is higher in 2019 at BND447,521 compared to BND349,100 in 2018. The estimated cost of damages for gas leakage was recorded BND25,180 in 2019 as compared to BND2,065 in 2018.

The main causes of fire in houses and buildings are believed to be problems with electrical appliances, cooking left unattended, loose or a leak in gas hose, bush fire, cigarette butts and children playing with fire.

One person sustain injuries from a house fire was reported in 2019 while there was none in 2018.

Two injuries due to car fires in 2019 and 2018 were reported.

Vehicle accidents recorded six fatalities in 2019 and five fatalities in 2018. Thirty-three injuries from car accidents were reported in 2019, a decrease from 2018 at 39.

Three persons were reported injured in house collapse incidents and two were injured in gas leakage incidents in 2019.

The FRD also received a massive increase in emergency calls for forest fire in 2019 where 983 calls were received compared to 463 calls in 2018. The forest fire also damaged bigger areas at 1420.5 hectares in 2019 compared to 644.2 hectares in 2018.

There was also an increase in emergency calls on bush fire at 672 in 2019 from 482 in 2018. The fire damaged 248.17 hectares in 2019.

During bad weather, the department received 545 emergency calls on fallen trees in 2019, a decrease compared to 587 in 2018.

Emergency calls on landslides also saw a drop at 33 in 2019 from 82 in 2018. Calls for blown away roof have also seen a decrease at 21 in 2019 from 57 in 2018.

However, the FRD recorded an increase of five calls for search and rescue for lost persons in 2019 at 21 calls from 16 calls in 2018. Emergency calls on search and rescue operation for drowning also saw a jump at six calls in 2019 from two calls in 2018.

In light of the increase of emergency calls, the FRD reminded the public to take safety precautions to avoid unwanted incidents.

Members of the public are reminded not to go too far into forests or hills, not to enter hilly areas when dark, not to go hiking alone and to inform family members and friends. For safety, bring along a mobile phone, a whistle and water in case of an emergency.

While at the beach, the public is urged not to swim far from the shore, look after children while playing at the beach as well as use lifejackets when jet skiing or surfing.

The public should to be aware of rip currents, remain calm when caught in one and swim parallel to the shore.

Fishermen, boat operators and passengers must wear lifejackets.

Boat operators are reminded to turn on the lights at night and during bad weather.

During landslides, the public is urged to observe the surrounding of their homes for possibilities of landslides, always be prepared to act if there are signs of landslides and evacuate the house. Members of the public are also reminded not to park their vehicles under trees or electric poles during strong wind.

During heavy rain, the public is urged to observe the water level, be prepared to face floods for low lying areas and flood-prone areas.

They are reminded to be safe and move their belongings such as important documents to higher grounds during floods.

During lightning, the public is urged to avoid open areas or sheltering under high trees and stay away from steel structures.

For self-service laundries, members of the public are urged to avoid parking their vehicles near the laundry shop and avoid being in the areas when using the machine to dry clothes.

Self-service laundries must put up a sign when carrying out maintenance.

Members of the public can download the safety guide application on Google Play Store as basic emergency and public safety guide by the National Disaster Management Centre.

Members of public can contact 995 during emergencies.