There’s an old saying in Filipino, “mabuti pang manakawan, huwag lang masunugan” (roughly translated, it means “better to be robbed than be a victim of fire.”) While this saying is debatable, the economic, financial and emotional impact of fires is undeniable. The month of March is Fire Prevention Month by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 115-A, s. 1966. This was created to inform the public on ways to keep their homes safe and fire-free. Despite this, estimated fire damage in the country reached over 11 billion pesos from 2010 to 2012.
A Commission on Audit (COA) report in 2012 once again puts the spotlight on our ill-equipped Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). Thousands of firefighters go about their dangerous task every day without fire coats, trousers, gloves, boots and helmets. Nearly a fourth of our municipalities, cities and provinces do not have fire stations.
As the COA report says, unless the BFP’s firefighting equipment and facilities are modernized, its mandate of keeping our homes and communities safe is far from being realized.