Abrigo: Fire hustle

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BLAME the strong wind that fanned the fire in Puroks 2 and 3 Isla Verde on the mid-day of Kadayawan’s Araw ng Pasasalamat.

Davao City Central Fire Station estimated the cost of properties razed down to ashes at P2.6 million and the fire reached to 4th alarm.

Chronically, firefighters lost the golden minutes to contain the fire for three perpetual reasons. First, narrow passage; second, the property owners are not heeding calls not to get proximate to fire; and the third and worst is that the residents are hostile to grab the hoses from the trained firefighters.

What should the local government do aside from serving hot meal to the victims and doling-out cash assistance?

If I may suggest, narrow streets and passages must be widened and cleared from sidewalk enterprisers. Then awareness campaign and fire drills must be conducted regularly in residential districts where fire is furious for light materials and frequently occurring, than in the concrete schools and offices where fire at daytime seldom happens.

And the most valuable thing the LGU must do is to acquire a firefighting “Type 1 Helicopter” or air tanker through the programs of 911, knowing that Davao is the second most advanced in the world in terms of emergency response.

What can this helicopter do? As we noticed, most fires in the city that is hard to control are happening in the coastal areas where streets and passages are too narrow and fire hydrants are limited. An air tanker knows no narrow passage and need not to refill from the hydrants. It can fetch seawater from Davao gulf with a bucket capacity of up to 2,500 gallons of water.

Helicopter can also drop chemical retardants, a red stuff composed of phosphate fertilizer to slow or cool down the fire. As the fanning wind blow away the smoke, the helicopter can clearly see from the top, the cradle of fire.

This proposal may not be applicable in other parts of the country because according to the BFP, as of March 2019 there are still 332 cities and municipalities that have no fire truck especially in the BARMM area.

On matters of security for the firemen, there is no need to arm them. In a fire incident in Bunawan district, a bakery shop owner hit the fireman in front of many onlookers when the latter refused to follow his order to aim the water pressure to his property. Had the fireman take a sidearm, the occurrence would have been a different story.

Early this month, President Duterte announced he wanted to arm the firefighters as augmentation to the law enforcers and public order operations of the police. But under the operational procedure of the bureau and as a mandate under RA 9514, firemen will render assistance to the police like Crowd Dispersal Management Operation but should not carry firearms or deadly weapons.

Better not to arm these non-combatant firefighters. During fire, call the police to assist for security and order, and serves deterrent to massive thievery of the victims’ belongings.


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