PETALING JAYA: A total of 28,338 firemen will be on call should there be floods during the northeast monsoon in Malaysia later this year, says the Fire and Rescue Department.

Its operations and rescue division director Datuk Nor Hisham Mohammad said these comprised 12,718 department personnel, as well as 2,061 auxiliary and 13,559 volunteer personnel.

“Separately, we also have 4,147 personnel from our special units.

“This comprises 631 personnel from the Water Rescue Unit, 1,945 from the Medical Rescue Service, 508 from the Hazardous Material Team, 459 from the Special Tactical Operation and Rescue Team of Malaysia, 561 from the Multi Skill Team and 43 from the Fire and Rescue Department’s air unit,” he said.

He added that 1,856 of its vehicular assets, including various four-wheel drives and boats, were also ready for deployment.

“We have identified 4,872 flood-prone areas nationwide, with 3,046 in the peninsula and 1,826 in Sabah and Sarawak.

“In addition, 186 areas with a tendency of water surges as well as 122 areas with dangerous slopes have also been identified,” he said.

Nor Hisham added that training exercises had also been conducted as part of overall preparations for disasters.

“The training exercises have been carried out both internally and with other agencies, with all our assets also being prepped,” he said.

“At the same time, we are educating the public on the matter, in tandem with our continuous monitoring of weather patterns and monsoon troughs, among others.”

The coming northeast monsoon season, which is expected to hit six states with heavy rains, has the government also making early preparations to prevent any major problems.

On Monday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said disaster management committees at the district level had been instructed to be immediately activated, while RM8mil had been allocated to 160 districts for operations in anticipation of the floods.

He added that the government had also allocated RM4.8mil to provide 320 fibreglass boats for the various districts while 6,010 temporary relief centres nationwide – which can house 1,620,855 flood victims – were being readied by the Welfare Department.

Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang are expected to experience heavy rains from November to December while Johor, Sabah and Sarawak are expected to face the same from December to January.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) has also forecast higher rainfall during the northeast monsoon later this year.

Its director-general Muhammad Helmi Abdullah said that between four and six episodes of heavy rain were expected to occur during the northeast monsoon, which usually starts in mid-November and continues until next March.

From November to December, the weather would be more humid, especially in the east coast states of the peninsula, western Sarawak and eastern Sabah, he said.

Muhammad Helmi added that MetMalaysia had been delivering weather briefings to disaster management agencies at the central, state and district levels since August, with the public also kept informed from time to time.

He said it had conducted round-the-clock monitoring while issuing advisories or warnings of heavy rain as well as strong winds and rough seas through its various platforms.