Cordillera fire exec admits lack of fire trucks

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Monday, March 4, 2013

BUREAU of Fire Protection (BFP) officials recently acknowledged their dire need for additional equipment, fire trucks and fire stations to be able to respond to raging infernos.

Last year, 106 of the 189 fire incidents in Cordillera occurred in residential areas and caused more than P4.8 million in damages.

BFP Assistant Regional Director Angelico Albert Buyayo said all these could have been contained fast, if not prevented, if there are enough fire trucks to respond especially in far-flung areas.


He said out of the 77 local government units in the Cordillera, only 34 have existing fire stations, with only around 59 fire trucks currently being utilized by around 409 firemen and women region-wide.

He said if the ideal ratio of one fire truck for every 28,000 individuals is to be observed, the region may well need some 96 more fire trucks to be effective.

But that is only half of the problem, as Baguio City fire marshal Joe Fernand Bangyod said aside from fire trucks, many towns and even cities in the region have no existing fire stations.

Bangyod said the problem lies on local governments that have failed to donate lots to the BFP for the construction of the fire stations, including substations.

This problem of local governments not cooperating with the BFP is evident during fires in many far-flung towns where responding firemen have to traverse through rough terrains and drive several kilometers just to reach a fire scene.

Bangyod said BFP officials continue to urge local governments to donate lots for fire stations and buy their own fire trucks if finances are available, or at least coordinate with the BFP in acquiring one.

Aside from fire trucks and fire stations, the country’s firefighters also need equipment and special apparatus to be able to put off fires efficiently.

BFP-Cordillera spokesperson Josesito Dollente said while firemen in urban areas are equipped with modern firefighting apparatus, some of those in remote towns have to make do with what is given them by the agency.

But the recent amendment in the Fire Code of the Philippines will hopefully address these problems besetting local firefighters, said Dollente, adding some 80 percent of the new Fire Code of the Philippines now focuses on the modernization of the BFP.

Fire officials also claimed that aside from complete equipment, the most important component of preventing fire incidents is the cooperation of ordinary citizens by being aware of fire safety hazards and in following corrections suggested by firefighters to address deficiencies.

Bangyod said they are recently reaching out to the barangays by coming up with community firefighting teams to work hand in hand with fire fighters in putting off fires.

He emphasized the importance of observing fire safety standards to ensure no human life or property will be harmed ever again during fire incidents.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 05, 2013.

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