By NyaungU Phee
In a bid to protect the lives, property and heritage of the State and the people, fire safety measures and natural disaster response programmes are undertaken. Such an effort can minimize the hazards triggered by disaster and fire. Being the unpredictable nature of the disaster, fires can threaten lives and property in the State and hinder the country’s development. This being so, to keep abreast of the development activities and keep connected with other countries, implementation of those programmes can help bring towards effective disaster risk management. Every citizen must conserve the natural resources of the country. Most importantly, the firefighters across the globe are protecting the lives and property of the people and sometimes, making a bold resolution to save the people. Myanmar has been experiencing fire hazards and natural disasters and the Myanmar fire brigade has been providing fire prevention, fire suppression and rescue activities together with the related troops. They always emphasize fire hazard mitigation. They extinguished the hazardous fire by risking their lives and made heroic deeds. As a result of this, they are honoured as the ones with the hearts of lions.
Myanmar Fire Brigade is continuously taking fire safety measures. The hot season is vulnerable to fire outbreaks. The automatic fire sprinkler system, fire alarm system, smoke detectors and emergency preparedness activities have been implemented. Firefighters stay alert for emergency notification service and rush to the scene for mitigation. Similarly, they are always on standby for any nature of disasters. Fire can start and spread rapidly in seconds. This being so, real-time emergency response, fire suppression and mitigation of damages and losses are the goals of the fire service crew at the scene.
Ukrainian firefighters were seen battling with a huge blaze during the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Firefighters never leave the fire incidents for rescue and migration. Every country has different patterns of politics, economics, education and health. Nonetheless, every firefighter across the globe is ready to serve the lives of the people, all of them perform the same and they are committed to the job. Maltese Cross is known around the world as the symbol of fire service. It can be found on fire engines, fire service department uniforms and firefighters’ badges. If a fireman sees this Maltese Cross with axes, he can associate with another fireman wherever he goes regardless of different nationalities and continents such as Asia, Europe and Africa. They proudly told people that I am a fireman. Firefighters across the world share knowledge and exchange practices on fire prevention and rescue activities, establish mutual respect and maintain close contacts among the states. They have the hearts of lions who are willing to help despite their skin colour, nationalities, race, religion, poor or rich.
Myanmar is also facing fire hazards like other regional countries. There were 222 outbreaks of fire in January 2021, incurring K215.6 million losses, while 150 fires were reported in January 2022, with estimated losses of K447.6 million. This year, the number of fires dropped compared to the same corresponding period of last year. However, the losses incurred in fires increased by K232 million.
Moreover, there were 237 fires, with estimated losses of K296 million in February 2021. A total of 254 fires broke out, causing K972 million losses in February 2022, showing the increase of 17 fires and K675 million as against the year-ago period. It is a massive loss for the country and the people. Approximately 1,300 fires were recorded in the past 34 years (1988-2021), having extreme losses of K6,387 million, according to Myanmar Fire Brigade.
Yangon is the commercial hub of the country and fire outbreaks can cause a significant loss in the city. It took so long to put out the major urban conflagrations such as herbal warehouse fire in Mingala Taungnyunt in Yangon Region on 29 December 2011, teak and coal fire inside Myanmar International Terminal Thilawa in Kyauktan Township on 26 March 2012, Aung Moe Khaing cold storage fire in Kyauktan on 11 January 2013, Coca Cola factory fire on 24 September 2015, fire on the 22-floor of the hotel is under construction on Parami Road, Mayangon Township on 17 November 2015, Mingala market fire on 9 January 2016, fire outbreak of a tanker carrying jet fuel in Dagon Myothit (South) on 6 August 2017, Kandawgyi Palace hotel fire on 19 October 2017, YPI garment factory fire in Thingyangyun Township on 12 December 2017. Firefighters battled to control and successfully put out the fire amid the exposure to the toxic chemicals, explosion, risks and losses as they served their duties with their selflessness, acts of bravery, perseverance, fast decision making and compassion.
There were two cases of destructive fires which claimed the lives of firemen and people in Yangon city. Five hero firemen and 14 people died in the fire in 2011, with 37 firemen and eight people injured. The massive fire at Kandawgyi Palace hotel in the early hour on 19 October 2017 was a tragedy. Director-general, directors, officers and fire crew of Myanmar Fire Brigade managed to put out that massive fire. They had to stop the fire sparks not to spreading to Yangon Zoo. At this incident, officer U Kyaw Swar Lin from Shwepyitha Fire Station sustained a head injury after a burnt wooden beam with 6 inches circumference fell on him. He passed away after the treatment of over three months with loss of consciousness. Other firemen also got seriously injured. The firemen received bravery awards from the State. They are in a deed belonging to the heart of a lion with selfless and heroic deeds.
Myanmar fire brigade protects the lives and property of the people in the state and performs fire prevention, safety and rescue and service for environmental hazards with 24-hour service and mitigation measures. They ensure readiness for fire service as most of the fire outbreaks occur in summer. They also conducted public fire safety awareness activities.
Myanmar Fire Brigade enhanced its capacity and tried to meet the needs, with a fleet of fire trucks and equipment as it connected to the international firefighters and exchanged technology and practices. The massive fire showed the strong capacity with advanced fire engines and equipment, intradepartmental cooperation and good performance in harmony.
There were 1,187 fires in 1988, 1,394 in 1989, 1,519 in 1990, 1,815 in 1991, 1,620 in 1992, 1,464 in 1993, 1,272 in 1994, 1,177 in 1995, 902 in 1996, 1,007 in 1997, 1,098 in 1998, 847 in 1999, 876 in 2000, 868 in 2001, 843 in 2002, 760 in 2003, 956 in 2004, 835 in 2005, 833 in 2006, 944 in 2007, 799 in 2008, 714 in 2009, 920 in 2010, 923 in 2011, 1,219 in 2012, 1.673 in 2013, 1,629 in 2014, 1,708 in 2015, 1,847 in 2016, 1,832 in 2017, 1,739 in 2018, 2,155 in 2019, 2,139 in 2020 and 2,107 in 2021 respectively, totalling 43,621 fires with an estimated losses of K217,166 million. The losses are mounting year over year depending on commodity prices.
Those fire losses negatively impacted the road infrastructure, border development activities, health and education sectors.
Along with the modern lifestyle and the rapidly changing world, contemporary fire hazards are evolving, especially in the hot and dry season and people must take fire safety measures. The brigade conducts firefighting, search and rescue activities with the four duties and functions; fire precaution & fire prevention, fire extinction, search and rescue services and social humanitarian services. Firefighters are proudly honoured as fighters with lions’ hearts.