OBO: 9-hour fire wake-up call to retrain on construction safety

File photo
File photo

THE fire last week that caused nearly P4 billion in damage to a condominium development in Cebu City should serve as a wake-up call to contractors and developers to orient or re-train their workers on the basics of fire safety and basic safety measures in construction sites, Office of the Building Official chief architect Florante Catalan said Monday, April 17, 2023.

This, as the Cebu Contractors Association Inc. (CCA) said contractors have safety training, as upon application for a contractor’s license, contractors undergo a 40-hour training for Construction Occupational Safety and Health (COSH).

“Let me be very clear. For sure, they had training if the contractor has a contractor’s license, because we cannot police all contractors who will apply for a contractor’s license,” Bernard Sia, director of the CCA, said on Monday.

Sia said they hold yearly training in June when they have the Philconstruct trade show and exhibit. The safety officers of the contractors are trained to cascade their training to the workers under their respective companies.

“What happened is a wake-up call for our contractors and developers. I advise them to review, retrain and orient their workers, especially on the use of fire extinguishers,” the OBO’s Catalan said.

Catalan emphasized the importance of safety officers in all building constructions in the city, after a fire that hit a 35-story building under construction at the Grand Residences condominium development in Barangay Kasambagan last Friday lasted nine hours after initially affecting only the top floor.

Initial investigation by the Cebu City Fire Office showed that sparks from a welding rod may have ignited combustible materials on the top floor, and that construction workers were unable to stop the fire then because they did not know how to use the fire extinguishers nearby, enabling the fire to spread to the lower floors.

Don’t scrimp

“Unta, ang tanan nga construction activities sa atoang city, dili unta tipiron to hire safety officers, kay mao na siyay makatabang sa contractors, sa side sa owner, or sa developer, kay mao man gyud na ang mutan-aw,” Catalan added.

(For all the construction activities in our city, there should be no scrimping on the hiring of safety officers because that is what will help contractors, owners and developers, because they will be the ones to check the safety.)

The OBO also clarified that the building hit by fire was a 35-story building, not a 37-story building as initially reported. He said the confusion might have arisen from the tradition of the Chinese not to include the number four in their floors and buildings.

Catalan and the OBO’s consultant were to conduct an inspection on the site on Monday afternoon.

Catalan said they will peruse the incident report first, and then add to their findings after their site inspection. This will be the basis for their further actions.

They will check the details including who the contractors are, the subcontractors, the safety officers of the building, and if they were present at that time, and all the other involved parties.

As of this writing, the OBO had not received the official incident report from the Bureau of Fire Protection yet, along with the report from the building management.

Should the management continue or restart the construction, the building site will have to be checked again and examined if it is still fit for construction. Afterwards, they will have to request for clearance to resume work, Catalan explained.

As of January to March of this year, OBO has issued 143 notices of illegal constructions, 140 notices of violations, and 12 suspensions on construction.


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