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Firefighters to engage public on fire safety campaign plan

Philippines: A ranking official of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) on Tuesday said firefighters will continue to engage the community to make the residents feel safe and secure from fires and any forms of man-made and natural calamities.

In his speech, chief Supt. Felixberto Abrenica, BFP director for operations, said bureau personnel should be visible to the public even beyond March of each year when the entire country is celebrating Fire Prevention Month.

Abrenica is in Cebu, the country’s to lead the Central Visayas version of the simultaneous kick-off ceremony of the Fire Prevention Month 2022 with the theme “Sa Pag-iwas sa Sunog Hindi Ka Nag-iisa”, held at the BFP-Region 7 headquarters on N. Bacalso Avenue here.

“I encourage you to be more visible in your communities. Initiate programmes and activities that would make the public feel safe and secure,” Abrenica said, reading the message of BFP chief, director Louie Puracan, urging firefighters in the region to interact with schools, children, and other civic leaders in initiating fire safety programmes and activities, and train them for emergency response.

Senior Supt. Mary Joy Candelario, BFP-7 deputy regional director for operations, said during the kick-off programme ensuring safety during fires is a responsibility of everyone, not only the personnel of the BFP.

“We are dreaming (that) to fight against fire is no longer a fight of the bureau but the fight of every Filipino, of every Cebuano, Boholano, Negrosanon, and Siquijodnon. Let us altogether work hand in hand to practice fire safety, take part, and be cautious in preventing unwanted fire incidents and always remember that the key to fire prevention is awareness and vigilance,” she said.

As the BFP modernization law mandated innovation and transformation of the agency, Puracan signed Memorandum Circular 2022-003 as guidelines in institutionalizing the bureau-wide Fire Prevention Month campaign.

The BFP’s flagship contingency planning model called community fire protection plan directed every fire station in the region to choose a target barangay under its area of responsibility where they can conduct hazard evaluation, hazard elimination, and tactical defense.

In this programme, the barangay will be guided in creating a community hazard map, a detailed guide for the exit routes, evacuation routes, and predetermined evacuation areas when any form of emergency strikes.

The 2,354-strong BFP-7 reported 1,891 fires in 2019 with damage pegged at PHP257.4 million, with smoking, open flame from rubbish, bonfire to structural fire as main causes.

But the figures dropped during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

In 2020, the agency recorded 918 fires with PHP231.3 million value of the damage, with electrical ignition as the main cause.

It further decreased in 2021 with only 905 fires but pegged a higher value of the damage at PHP335.5 million, with electrical ignition caused by arcing as the main reason.