INTERACTIVE The fire hazard that is the Malaysian home
INTERACTIVE The fire hazard that is the Malaysian home

INTERACTIVE: The fire hazard that is the Malaysian home

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians are not too fired up about fire safety at home, according to the data – over 90% of households in the country don’t have a fire extinguisher.

Only 8.9% of homes nationwide are equipped with the safety device, which is often the first line of defence against a fire.

Among the states and territories in Malaysia, Negri Sembilan had the lowest percentage of houses that own a fire extinguisher, with only 1.1% as of last year.

On the flip side, Putrajaya had the highest ownership at 37.9%.

Such was based on data from the Basic Amenities Survey Report 2022 by the Statistics Department, published in September this year.

Putrajaya also came out tops with the highest percentage of homes that have installed a fire alarm or smoke detector, at 19%.

This was above the national percentage, which was just a mere 5.2% of households in the country.

However, at the district level, Penampang in Sabah recorded the biggest proportion of homes with a fire extinguisher, with 39% owning at least one such device.

These findings came from a survey which collected a total of 89,253 household responses throughout the country.

Find out how well-equipped the homes in your district are in the table below:

All homes should be protected

It’s worrying that only a small percentage of homes have fire safety equipment, despite the fact that many of us usually spend a big chunk of our time at home.

Malaysian Fire Protection Association (MFPA) treasurer Teh Khay Leong said a person spent an average of about 12 to 16 hours at home each day.

As such, it was crucial to have protection against a residential fire, and a fire extinguisher should be a must for every household, he said.

“The MFPA hopes our laws will make it mandatory for all new homes, regardless of them having one or more floors, to be equipped with at least a portable fire extinguisher and smoke detector.

“This can be achieved with the cooperation of building developers, who sometimes provide free air-conditioners, refrigerators and other appliances when they promote the sale of properties,” he said.

Currently, there has yet to be a law to ensure every home in Malaysia is equipped with a fire extinguisher.

While some developers do provide new properties with fire extinguishers, Teh said it was done as a goodwill gesture and not made compulsory.

He proposed that smoke detectors and portable fire extinguishers be included as part of the sales and purchase agreement between the house buyer and developer.

A burning issue

Meanwhile, data from the Fire and Rescue Department has shown that the overall total number of fire incidents was in the thousands every month.

In May this year, the department responded to a total of 3,255 fire incidents nationwide.

For residential fires, there have been several notable cases this year, with some leading to deaths.

Alliance for a Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said there was certainly a need to improve the level of fire safety awareness in Malaysia.

“One of things we can do is to declutter our homes by discarding highly combustible items like wastepaper, old magazines and rags that are near sources of fire,” he said.

Lee also pointed out that a fire at home often starts in the kitchen, and it was important to remember to never attempt to extinguish the flames with water in this situation.

This is because a kitchen fire is often caused by grease, and pouring water may cause the oil to splatter and spread even further.

“Instead, use a fire blanket or a damp cloth to suffocate the flames,” he added.

He urged everybody to never take fire safety for granted as having the right knowledge and tools can save lives.

“If possible, equip your home with a fire extinguisher, smoke detector, fire blanket and emergency first aid kit,” he added.

MFPA’s Teh said the association always believed that proper education on fire safety at home or the workplace was of utmost importance and must be learnt from young, including at kindergarten.

He advised everyone to buy a fire extinguisher from a certified fire protection or servicing company, as the tool would act as “first aid” in a fire.

“It’s also important to ensure the pressure gauge of the fire extinguisher is in the green zone. If it is in the red zone, that means it must be sent for servicing to be recharged,” he said.

Here’s more information on how we can boost fire safety at home:

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