BFP seeks volunteer groups, village officials’ coordination
By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) mulls coordination with members of fire volunteer groups and village officials involved in putting off the fire whenever incidents occur to improve effective protection. The BFP officials aired their concern regarding close coordination with groups and individuals participating in the fire-fighting incident during the Kapihan sponsored by the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Philippine Information Agency on Wednesday, March 15. Police Chief Inspector Alberto de Baguio, Naga Fire Marshall, reiterated the need for coordination between the BFP and other groups that embark on the initiative of fighting the fire. De Baguio cited an instance when a fire volunteer group like the Naga White arrived earlier than the BFP personnel during fire incident. “We are not prohibiting them (fire volunteer groups) to conduct fire operation. But upon the arrival of the BFP their team leader must coordinate with us because they will be under our supervision,” he said. De Baguio said the BFP is mandated by law to conduct and supervise fire-fighting operations. He said there must be a memorandum of agreement between the BFP and the fire volunteer groups regarding the fire-fighting operations. De Baguio said as a protocol, other fire-fighting units must coordinate with the BFP in all operations. He acknowledged his “lapses” regarding the misunderstanding with fire volunteer groups in Naga by assuming that the protocol and coordination with the BFP has already been instituted. De Baguio said he is the 16th Fire Marshall of Naga City and he assumed that there was clear understanding as to the role of the fire volunteer brigades with the BFP but it proved otherwise. “After two years and three months in my position, I have observed wrong processes in the fire-fighting operations,” he said. De Baguio said he is correcting the wrong processes and assured that the performance of the BFP in Naga has improved with 60 percent decrease of fire incidents in 2015 compared to 2014 and 80 percent lesser in 2016 compared to 2015. He said he is correcting some processes especially the commitment of village officials and business owners. “During the conduct of evaluation there was no evaluation of the violations listed. What happened is that only the top management know the listed violations,” De Baguio said. He said these wrong processes had been corrected through information dissemination via seminars and fire drills where such violations were identified for compliance. De Baguio said in a business establishment there should be an incident commander who will act as the force multiplier for the meantime that the BFP personnel have yet to arrive. Aside from incident commander, the business establishment must designate a team leader and safety officer, he said. De Baguio said at the barangay level the tanod secure the properties while the barangay officials prevent people from getting near the fire scene and the police undertake crowd control. He said except for the BFP personnel, nobody is allowed inside the fire scene to preserve the evidence, prevent looting and “water damage.” He related an instance in Barangay Abella where he said the officials there failed because one tanod grabbed the firehose from a BFP personnel which is prohibited. Senior Fire Officer 4 Benhur Caronan explained that during a fire incident the owner of the place must shout for help to attract attention. Caronan said the victims of the fire must immediately go out of the fire scene and stay in safe ground. “Never go back to the establishment or house when the fire is already raging,” he said. Caronan said once the fire brought attention, neighbors or anybody would be calling the BFP. He asked understanding if BFP personnel could not come immediately since he said they have to evaluate the situation and location of the fire for appropriate equipment and fire-fighting technique that should be brought and applied at the fire scene. Caronan said once the BFP receive the call, several questions will be posted to the caller including name, telephone number, location in order to avoid entertaining prank callers. Caronan disclosed that while there were 45 fire incidents in 2015, these were reduced to only 18 in 2016 which manifested awareness among the people with regards to fire prevention. He added that for the first quarter of 2017, however, 8 fire incidents were recorded in Naga. These were due, he explained to the use of candles by some homeowners because of the long power outage that followed after Typhoon Nina hit Bicol the previous month [December 2016], when power supply was cut off and it took time to restore them.