40% of establishments in Baguio remain fire traps

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Sunday, March 3, 2013


BUILDINGS constructed before the enactment of the Building and Fire Codes of the Philippines continue to imperil the lives of residents in Baguio City.

Only 8,000 of some 15,000 business establishments in the Summer Capital comply with fire safety standards.

As the country observes Fire Prevention Month, fire marshal Joe Fernand Bangyod claimed some 7,000 establishments or roughly 40 percent have deficiencies in acquiring fire safety inspection certificates.

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Bangyod said they are now asking for the cooperation of the public especially business owners who often violate the Fire Code of the Philippines for having no fire exits, emergency firefighting equipment, crowded and obstructed hallways among other deficiencies.

He said the five days given for local firefighters to inspect establishments also hinder them from covering all areas with existing businesses. A reason why he said they are now extending it to a month just to ensure buildings and structures in the city remain safe.

The fire marshal also stressed fire inspections should also be done per barangay to ensure all establishments including those not registered in the city will be covered by the inspections.

In order to address their backlog in inspections, he said fire substations such as the one in Irisan also conducting inspections.

But aside from inspecting establishments, he said there are buildings in Baguio already declared for foreclosure because they violated recommendations by the BFP while some pose as fire hazards and are ill-maintained for years.

He said the problem with most of these buildings is they were built prior to the enactment of the Building and Fire Codes of the Philippines in 1978 which means these structures were not built according to specifications and standards required by the law.

He added building owners who fail their two-year compliance period are either issued a foreclosure order which means the BFP have no liability whenever fires occur in their buildings as they were fully warned of the existing hazards.

But Bangyod said what is ironic is that most of these fire hazards are buildings either owned by the national government or the city government.

Among these he said include some sections of the Baguio Public market which were earlier condemned and issued for foreclosure more than a year ago.

He urged building owners to either move for the immediate demolition of their buildings or at least follow fire safety inspections to prevent fires from further affecting other buildings especially in the Central Business District.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 04, 2013.

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