Damaging and stealing fire hydrants can have a negative impact on the country and can jeopardise public safety in the event of fires occurring at identified high risk areas. The Acting Senior Superintendent of Fire and Rescue Haji Nordin bin Haji Buntan, Commanding Officer of 'F' Operations, stressed the matter at the Joint Media Conference on the risks faced when fire hydrants are damaged or its components stolen by irresponsible parties. Held yesterday morning at the Fire and Rescue Department in Berakas, the media conference was also joined by the Water Services Department, Public Works Department and the Royal Brunei Police Force.

The Fire and Rescue Department outlined the negative outcomes of damaging and stealing fire hydrants. Firstly, damaged fire hydrants cannot be fully utilised by the Public Works Department or Fire and Rescue Department during water supply disruptions or incidences of fire. Secondly, it will be difficult for the Public Works Department to utilise the hydrants to fill up water tankers for the public during water supply disruptions, as well as water supply for the Fire and Rescue Department to extinguish fires. The department would like the public's cooperation and assistance in together playing a vital role in maintaining the security of the fire hydrants.

Meanwhile, Pengiran Haji Mohd Saiful Hazman bin Pengiran Haji Duraman, Water Section Engineer, Public Works Department stressed that it is an offence under the Water Supply Act, for any individual without the written permission of the Water Controller to disturb, open or close any fire extinguisher valve and if found guilty can be sentenced to a fine of not more than 20 thousand dollars. Second or subsequent offences can face a fine of not more than 50 thousand dollars, a period of imprisonment or both. Assessments made by the Water Services Department and the Fire and Rescue Department found 556 fire hydrants are not functional due to equipment theft, damage or vandalism and the losses are estimated at more than 200 thousand dollars.

Up to March this year, the Royal Brunei Police Force has received 16 reports on fire hydrant theft. No arrests have been made but monitoring and gathering of evidence is currently being carried out to trace the offender. Aprizam Bin Haji Mohammad, representative of the Royal Brunei Police Force said, the offender will be brought to court on charges under Section 3-7-9 of the Penal Code Chapter 22 which is Theft. If found guilty, the accused will be sentenced to 3 years imprisonment or a fine or both. If the case involved any damages, the accused will be charged under Section 427 of the Penal Code Chapter 22, which is mischief causing damage and if found guilty will be sentenced to a period of imprisonment that can come up to 5 years and not less than 2 strokes of the cane.

Source: Radio Television Brunei