COMMUNITY involvement to sustain fire prevention is the thrust of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in the observance of this year’s Fire Prevention Month.

With El Niño affecting the country, the fire department appealed to the community to be “extra vigilant” and take the frontline in securing their houses from the fire.

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“It is not enough to know, but we should apply what we knew about fire safety,” Supt. Nepomuceno Dangoy, chief directorial staff of BFP 7 said.

Cases

Firetruck sirens were simultaneously turned on yesterday morning, kicking off the month-long fire prevention celebration.

In Central Visayas alone, 89 fire incidents occurred in January to February this year. The incidents were higher by seven cases than in 2009.

The worth of properties razed by the fire had also increased.

In 2009, more than P16 million worth of properties were damaged.

For the first two months this year, a total of P105.5 million in properties were razed.

Of the four provinces in Central Visayas, Cebu had the highest in incidents and damaged properties in periods covered in 2009 and 2010.

In Cebu City, Fire Marshal Esmael Codilla said they have responded and investigated 24 fire cases this year.

In January, 12 fires hit the city. One person was reportedly hurt.

Last month, there were also 12 incidents. There were major fire incidents including that in Barangay Capitol Site that killed four people and another in Sitio Tambisan,

Barangay Tisa.

Codilla and Dangoy, in separate interviews, urged the public to help the fire department in taking an advocacy to prevent fire.

Dangoy said their information campaign will be nothing without the cooperation of the public.

Both officials said the public, especially the households, can help by ensuring to unplug their appliances before leaving the house and avoid excessive use of electricity, like when “octopus outlets” are installed.

On the issue of El Niño, Dangoy said, he is optimistic that water supply will not be a problem in firefighting.

He said that in case of fire, the fire department in Cebu City can tap the assistance of the neighboring areas in the putting out the blaze.

In Talisay City, with the onset of the dry season, firefighters are bracing for tough times ahead.

Activities

City Fire Marshal Felipe Canillas, who led the opening of the Fire Prevention Month program, said they will see to it that all their four fire trucks are filled to the brim with water to ensure the firemen’s readiness.

Canillas said they have to coordinate closely with the Metro Cebu Water District to check the water supply of the latter’s 40 existing hydrants.

He said the City Fire Department also needs a water tanker to beef up the water reserves of existing mobile fire trucks.

A water tanker can store 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of water or the equivalent of four fire trucks.

Among the activities lined up for the month-long observance include an information drive, home safety inspection, the 5th Talisay City Rescue Olympics, lectures,barangay day care visits and fire evacuation drills in public schools, private establishments and the City Hall.

Faulty wiring, electrical overloading and overheated appliances were the most common causes of fires last year, Canillas said.