It seemed like another bright and cheerful Sunday where everyone gets to indulge in a little clinomania and take the day slow. The roads were relatively empty, retarded makan-angin drivers who thinks the whole road belongs to them were keeping to the left lane and the sun was doing a damn good job at trying to blind you into going back to your bed. For me, I’ve always been an early riser and having a healthy light breakfast is one of those great ways to start the day off.
Spotted this new dim sum place and decided to give it a try (the empty car park spaces in front of the shop kinda decided it for me). It was still early and within the restaurant, there was only two tables occupied. There wasn’t much on the menu and I was thinking to myself this place isn’t going to be in business for long. Or maybe not since parking isn’t much of an issue here so it depends on how much they screw up the food offering. Unlike typical dim sum places, they don’t have a food cart being wheeled around so there’s nothing much of an olfactory experience for first timers like me. What I did smell was a faint trace of smoke, like someone was burning some paper offerings for the dead. Except it wasn’t.
5 minutes in the restaurant, trails of white smoke could be seen waffing by and there appears to be some commotion outside. The smoke seems to be coming next door and it appears to be getting thicker. Somehow, the workers in this restaurant had keys to the neighbor’s shutters and managed to raise it, with smoke billowing out. The dim sum owner assured the patrons that the workers will sort things out and there’s nothing to be worried about.
7 minutes in the restaurant, popping sounds could be heard and white smoke turned yellow and brown. No, it doesn’t look like someone’s burning something for ancestors. Not unless it involves the whole building.
Everyone rushed out and we all knew it’s bad. Someone was shouting to call the emergency numbers and I whipped out my phone and …. shit, what number to dial?? The first thing that came to mind was “Dial 911” but wait, that’s for the US. The second set was 1300-88-2525 …. fark, that’s Pizza Hut delivery. WTF is the Emergency number?? This is the problem when there isn’t enough effort done on public services and important numbers get drowned by the sea of commercial marketing. Then it hit me and I called 999.
Here’s what you should do when the emergency team picks up your call:-
1) State the nature of the emergency. In this case, it was a fire.
2) State the location of the emergency. I said the street name and you might think everyone knows where SS2 is but remember that the emergency team answers calls for the whole of Malaysia. God knows if there’s another SS2 in a rural place like Similanjau, Sarawak. State the street name and district/prescint
3) Describe the emergency. What building? Which floor? Anyone trapped within? Anything to help the emergency team when they arrive.
4) Listen to instructions. The operator may request you to do something for him/her. In my case, she told me to ensure no one stands near the site and to wait for the fire brigade to arrive before directing them to the scene of the emergency.
5) Do not put down the phone because they may patch you directly to the emergency team dispatched to the scene. In my case, they connected me directly to the fire brigade team who asked me to describe the color of the smoke and the scene itself (ie is there fire visible, etc).
By the time I put down the phone, another 3 minutes have passed and by this time, glasses were heard cracking and a roar like the sound of a waterfall except it was dull, angry greeted the ears. I don’t think I was the only one wondering if there’s going to be an explosion since the source of the fire is a restaurant and they may have gas tanks in the kitchen. It was impossible to see the insides of any shops opened nearby as the thick, black smoke covered everything and it made the roaring sound all the more scarier since you can’t visually register anything.
It took the fire brigade less than 5 minutes to arrive at the scene after I made the call. Two police patrol cars arrived within seconds and cordoned the road leading to the scene. This was the first time I see firefighters swing into full action and I am awed at their courage and decisiveness. Quick and efficient, the hose were connected to the hydrant outside and water was pouring in. Within 30 minutes, the fire was contained and the emergency was over.
This incident taught me a few lessons. That everyone has a role to play in prevent an emergency. That includes you if you spot an emergency. In the case of a fire, the real heroes are the fire fighters. If you think you’ve got balls taking the apex of a corner at neck breaking speeds on a tall vehicle running on skinny tires, no ABS/ESP and rear wheel driven (in short, driving a Toyota Avanza like it’s an AE86 on Ulu Yam downhill), try running into a building where you can hear a fire but can’t see it and at any moment, you might be greeted by a fireball or worse, shrapnel caused by a blast. That, my friends, takes balls of steel.
And I am very thankful no one was hurt in today’s drama. Except the owner of the restaurant and the insurance company he subscribes to.
Like all restaurants, the kitchen is probably where the fire started. This was the only place where fire is visible
Oh, and please …. save the emergency number(s) on your phone. You do not want to be making the mistake of ordering pizza in an emergency like this