Disaster response awards upped firemen’s worth

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

IF in the past the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) have been considered second-class agencies compared with the Philippine National Police (PNP), the BFP-Northern Mindanao (BFP-NorMin) is now at par with the PNP.

City Mayor Oscar Moreno said in his speech during the 40th fire recognition day Wednesday that he is happy the BFP-NorMin’s standards is now at par with the police.

Moreno added that the BFP-NorMin transcended to a new level by responding to disasters and rescue operations and did not limit its capacity to firefighting.

“The firefighters of BFP-NorMin braved to help the people during super typhoon Pablo (Bopha) and tropical storm Sendong (Washi),” Moreno said.

During the activity, ‘Medalya ng Pagtulong sa Nasalanta’ was awarded to 140 firefighters of BFP-NorMin due to their invaluable assistance in the search and rescue, clearing operations, flushing operations and distribution of water during and after the onslaught of Super Typhoon Pablo in the city.

The same award was also granted to around 50 firefighters from Iligan City.

Engr. Noli dela Rita, BFP-NorMin public information officer, said the development in the BFP happened following Republic Act No. 9514 or the “Revised Fire Code of the Philippines of 2008.”

“The revised fire code empowers the BFP to collect fire code revenues,” he said adding that previously the collection was conducted through the local government unit (LGU).

He added that since the Local Government Unit’s collection and deposit of revenues to the national treasury has been dragging, thus, upgrades in the BFP have been also slow.

Dela Rita said that since the BFP can now collect the fire code revenues, it would be easy for the department to gather the amount and buy new materials for their upgrades.

He said if there are new buildings, the BFP-NorMin will be part of giving them clearance, and the fire code requires fee based on its corresponding computations that will help the department generates its own revenues.

“Previously, in the entire Philippines there were only seven breathing apparatuses available. But at present, in the region alone we have 12 breathing apparatuses that are very useful in responding to fire incidents,” Dela Rita said.

Professionalization and training

“You can never enter the BFP if you are not a college graduate,” he said adding that teachers and other professionals are welcome to join the noble job.

He said the BFP-NorMin’s skills and knowledge to respond to fire incidents are in line with the standards of the national fire protection agency that is accredited by international training institutions.

“We are not equipped with advanced training, new techniques against fire, and the latest technology,” he said.

Best fire station

During the recognition ceremony, the Iligan City fire station was awarded as the best city fire station of the year.

Senior Fire Inspector Rommel Villafuerte, Iligan city fire marshal, said their accomplishments doubled this year.

“Our fire equipment is complete,” Villafuerte said when asked about the factors that contributed to their accomplishment.

He added that their quick response time to disasters especially fire incidents contributed a lot to the award.

With regard to their biggest accomplishment this year, he said the incident that happened in Granex Port Manufacturing Corporation in Iligan city (Granex-Iligan) was one of them.

He said the BFP in Iligan successfully contained the fire that burned the copra warehouse.

“Our battle against the fire in Granex lasted for six days, and the BFP-Iligan fought against it 24 hours a day,” he said pointing out that two firefighters were wounded during the incident.

The wounded firefighters were Senior Fire Inspector Clint Cha and Fire Officer 1 Raymond Magallon. The ‘Medalya ng Sugatang Magigiting’ was granted to them during the recognition day.

He added that if they were not able to contain the fire, it could have spread toward the community causing widespread damage to the livelihood of the people and may have cost lives.

Moreno said the BFP did heroic acts that changed the perspective of the world.

Super Typhoon Yolanda

Superintendent Lindy Lauzon and Alan Alandano along with 27 firefighters from BFP-NorMin received the ‘Medalya ng Pagtulong sa Nasalanta’ after their invaluable assistance to the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda particularly in Tacloban City.

BFP-NorMin said: “Their selfless acts manifested the unswerving dependability of firefighters even to emergencies that are not fire-related which is worthy of emulation and recognition of others in the service.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 19, 2013.

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