LP #3 – Bomba

Here’s another Liverpool photo that triggered my memories…

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It is a photo of two firetrucks outside our accommodation. Firetrucks are also called bomba trucks in Malaysia, because bomba means the fire rescue department in Malay.

Why were those trucks here? Because of us bloody Malaysian Chinese with our extremely wonderful cooking skills.

If you have watched the Brits and Europeans cook (like Jamie Oliver), you know they mostly use the oven. Even when they use the stove, it is mostly for sauteing. Simply put, their cooking methods do not produce a lot of smoke. Whereas for us, the bloody Malaysian Chinese, our Standard Operating Procedure when it comes to cooking is to heat some oil in the wok/pan until extremely high heat, and then throw a bunch of stuff in and SHOOSSSSHHHHH and watch the…. yeah, smoke, lots of smoke rise.

The apartments in our accommodation all come with built in smoke detectors. Now the one in the kitchen is pretty robust and can accept lots of smoke. The thing is, us morons love to open the kitchen door when we cook for ventilation purposes. So the smoke escaped to the rest of the apartment and triggered the smoke detector in the walkway.

When that happens, the firetrucks will show up in a matter of minutes. Except instead of dealing with emergency and raging fire, they had to deal with sheepish looking Asian students.

I’m pretty sure my apartment has never been one of the culprits for such instances, but there were more than 100 apartments filled with us. And this wasn’t the only incident throughout our stay. In the three and a half months we were there, I think I saw the firetrucks come at least 5 times. The hot hunks firemen were understandably extremely upset. Between some of us guys, we speculated that it must have been the girls who intentionally set off the fire alarm frequently so that they can ogle on the lean biceps of those firemen..

Anyway, I was glad that these firemen did not behave like the village folks in that famous Aesop’s fable [The Boy Who Cried Wolf]. I mean, there have been a big bunch of students like us staying in Liverpool every summer. I’m sure we were not the only troublemaking bunch. I’m pretty sure our seniors have also had their fair share of accidentally summoning the firemen over incidents. Over the years, who knows how many times they have had to deal with false alarms courtesy of Malaysian morons. Yet, not once have they ever shrugged off a fire alarm triggered from our accommodation. Every time, they will still show up in doubly quick time.

I really respect their dedication and professionalism…

And if any of you reading are TARCian juniors who will be going to the UK next year or in the future, please please please, for the love of God, CLOSE THAT DAMN KITCHEN DOOR WHEN YOU ARE COOKING!


  1. Haha I’m actually surprised the fire department shows up that fast there. I would set off my smoke alarm cooking from time to time (in the Us) and no fire dept ever comes. I don’t think they come unless they’re called. Very impressive response, those English firefighters! And I wouldn’t blame the girls for setting it off in purpose ;).

    • I’ve never had the misfortune to test US fire department’s efficiency (thank goodness), but I suppose it is understandable that they cannot respond as quickly as their English counterparts. It is such a big country, and I think most people tend to take care of themselves. And I don’t think fire alarm systems are the norm in the States.

  2. Wanna laugh and also at the same time marvel at this post and the Bomba there.

    Here, people complain Bomba never arrive or arrive late.

    • Another one with less than complimentary opinion on our Bomba. I suppose it is true then. Although I hope it is just a public perception thing. Hopefully I won’t get to test their response personally.

  3. “SHOOSSSSHHHHH” Yes, that is exactly how Chinese like to cook πŸ˜€ The kind of incident you describe here happens quite a bit in my apartment block too. Chinese students would cook up a storm and then instead of opening the window to let the smoke go out, they will open the front door to the hallway. A few months ago this happened at 2am and the smoke alarm went off. There was a loud alarm and the whole apartment got evacuated…everyone except me went downstairs – I slept through it all. Really, it was dangerous πŸ˜€

    • Goodness! What the heck are they doing cooking at 2am??? You’re even more amazing for being able to sleep through a fire alarm! That’s the second nastiest siren that I have ever heard in my entire life! (First nastiest being Hazmat alarm)..

      • The story doesn’t end there. So the alarm went off in all the three blocks within my apartment complex. What happened next as people evacuated: the two students who were cooking themselves a big snack at 2am went down to the carpark and drove away from the scene. The firemen then arrived, and obviously couldn’t find the correct unit as to where the “fire” was. They ended up breaking down the wrong door to the wrong apartment…

        It was very dangerous for me to sleep through the fire alarm. Luckily it was just smoke and no real fire. And mind you, this alarm is the kind that goes “doooot doooot. Please evacuate” over and over again until someone turns it off.

        • Damn! I would not be surprised if those culprits are Malaysians! Causing a mess and then running away is totally something a typical Malaysian would do, embarrassing as it sounds! I’m not accusing all Malaysians are as rotten as that, I mean the likelihood of it being Malaysian (and China Chinese) are way higher. I’m being a judgmental stereotyping prick here, but this is my blog, so…

          • Many international students come and go through my apartment complex each year. I would say majority of them are Chinese Malaysians/Singaporeans or those from China. So you are more or less spot on.

            Also, the incident happened in the cooler months of the year. So cold outside, why open window to let the smoke out… πŸ™„

            • This was the exact reason we were told why those smoke detector went off. It was cold outside, and we were not used to the cold, so they opened the kitchen door instead of the window! I guess Chinese will be Chinese, regardless of whether we go to UK or Aus… sigh…

  4. I recall a few false fire truck calls due to smoke detectors in university too. Unfortunately it was more due to bad cooking skills and things actually burning than a fab wok cooking technique.

  5. LOL at this part ‘Between some of us guys, we speculated that it must have been the girls who intentionally set off the fire alarm frequently so that they can ogle on the lean biceps of those firemen..’ xDD

    But if I were there may be I would do the same also la! :p

  6. I heard of that happening. Luckily that never happen to me as I only steam or microwave my food in UK. The place I rented has a smoke detector in every room. Here in M’sia, we don’t even bother to install any smoke detectors in our own home. How’s that for safety.

    • Probably for the same reason why we gave the firemen so many false alarms. If we install smoke detectors at home in KL, we will make a lot of “mistakes”.. hahaha!

  7. hahaha, same thing that i have experienced, but of course i was not the one who triggered the fire alarm but i have also heard/seen firetrucks “beedo-beedo-beedo” to the campus, due to the “false alarm” triggered by kitchen smoke.. indeed very efficient, i remember it’s not anyone needing to call them but the fire alarm system directly sent a signal to the bomba and they rushed over.. unlike here, hmmm, probably they only ask “api sudah padam ke??”

    • Actually I don’t really know the efficiency of our bomba. I have never have cause to summon them before. Hopefully I won’t have to, ever. 😐

  8. I think every Asian having lived in the West would have many interesting stories to share. My Korean house mate often brought dried squids back from Seoul and they would often grill them late at nights to chew with the soju. One day the police showed up finally as neighbours suspected we tried to incinerate a corpse as the roasted squid smelled awful to them.

    I am definitely not surprised by the prompt attention given by their cops and bomba! Salute them all in UK and U.S.

  9. the Brits Bomba are so efficient! even when they did not receive any distress call they still pops up in ur place whenever the fire alarm goes off…Here in M’sia, even called few times still take long to arrive…and the excuse is ‘traffic jam’!

    • This is because the fire alarms are all linked to the fire rescue department over there (not so sure about here). Any blip and they will receive a trigger for action.

      To be fair to the bomba here, traffic jam is a valid “excuse” unfortunately LOL! I just read earlier today, all the cars did not want to give way to the police escort when they realized the car being escorted is Ajib’s official car. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

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