Fire official highlights need for reblocking measures

Cebu City map.
Cebu City map.

ROAD reblocking is crucial for firefighting efforts, according to a Cebu City fire official, who emphasized the challenges encountered during response due to inaccessible roads, particularly in densely populated residential areas.

SFO2 Wendell Villanueva, Cebu City Fire Office information officer, said despite the readiness of firefighters and equipment availability, the limitations posed by the lack of proper access to certain locations hinder effective firefighting operations.

“It is a perennial problem, regarding the access of our fire trucks and firemen. We really do not have access for operations during fire emergencies because of how narrow the roads are,” he said.

Villanueva, in an interview with SunStar Cebu on Friday, March 15, 2024, said residential roads hinder both fire trucks and personnel movement during emergencies. He said there is an urgent need to address accessibility concerns for the safety of residents.

Villanueva said this challenge extends beyond the fire department, also affecting other essential emergency response teams like ambulances. He highlighted the broader impact of poor infrastructure planning on the community’s overall emergency response system.

“There really is a need for road reblocking. So that we will have access for our fire trucks, ambulances, among others, if there is fire and other alarms that might happen,” he said.

With the challenge of accessing alleys and inner roads, he said, they often have to extend the fire hose connection as part of their response.

In a SunStar Cebu report on March 10, 2024, Mayor Michael Rama said the City Government will continue implementing reblocking initiatives in response to fire incidents. Reblocking involves creating more space between houses to limit fire spread and grant emergency responders access to the scene.

The mayor had previously emphasized the necessity of reblocking initiatives and the importance of enforcing stringent building regulations.

“Dugay na na siya na idea (That idea has been around for a long time),” Rama said.

Mark Abella Ceballos, head of the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor, said they would eventually reblock fire-prone areas.

However, he declined to disclose specific details, such as the affected areas and the number of residents, as they are still in the process of validating the data. They need to determine whether the affected residents own the lots they occupy. If not, the residents may be relocated to socialized housing units.

Last year, the City Government allocated P1.5 billion for the acquisition of lots that are spread across barangays Kinasang-an Pardo, Basak Pardo and Basak San Nicolas for the South Coastal Urban Development, the City’s socialized housing project.

Water conservation

Meanwhile, Villanueva has called on the public to conserve water amid the ongoing El Niño phenomenon. This action aims to enable the fire department to respond swiftly to emergencies without facing water supply shortages.

Despite the dry season, Villanueva assured there are no issues with the water supply sourced from the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD).

Last week, MCWD chairman Jose Daluz III revealed an ongoing water production deficit. From the usual production of 301,000 cubic meters of water daily, the production decreased to 272,000 cubic meters daily, as of March 13.

To address this, MCWD will be relying on upcoming initial deliveries of desalinated water from contracted partners in April. MCWD provides water to the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay, and the towns of Cordova, Consolacion, Liloan and Compostela.

MCWD spokesperson Minerva Gerodias said they anticipate an additional 30,000 cubic meters of desalinated water from three sources, which she could help alleviate the situation. / KJF

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