Puno bats for modernization of fire protection services
by T. Villavert
Iloilo City (14 February) -- Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said that there is an urgent need to modernize the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) so that it will be equipped to deal with any emergency.
"A modernized BFP can better protect the gains of President Arroyo's economic recovery program," Secretary Puno said as he emphasized that two House Bills and two Senate bills that aimed to modernize the BFP should be certified as urgent bills.
The DILG press report disclosed that Secretary Puno in a memorandum for the President through the Executive Secretary, sought President Arroyo's approval to certify as priority bills House Bill No. 383, An Act Providing for the Modernization of Fire Protection and for other Purposes introduced by Representative Roilo Golez; Senate Bill No. 1909, An Act Providing for the Modernization of Fire Protection by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago; House Bill No. 276, An Act Amending PD No. 1185 Otherwise Known as the Fire Code of the Philippines Providing for Effective Implementation Thereof and For Other Purposes by Representative Darlene Antonino-Custodio; and Senate Bill No.1477, An Act Amending PD No. 1185 Otherwise Known as the Fire Code of the Philippines and for Other Purposes by Senator Francis G. Escudero.
According to the DILG, of the 1,494 municipalities nationwide, only 827 have protection capability. The BFP needs a minimum of 667 units of firetrucks to comply with its mandate of establishing at least one fire station in each local government unit nationwide. It has an existing fleet of 1,629 firetrucks of which 1,272 are operational while the remaining 357 are either under repair or beyond economic repair. The Bureau has a total manpower complement of 16,227 uniformed, non-uniformed and civilian personnel and requires a total of 29,220 firefighters for its mission-critical function of fire suppression, EMS and rescue, safety enforcement and investigation and intelligence.
The DILG press report further disclosed that despite the inadequacies in terms of equipment and personnel, the Bureau's budgetary appropriation from the national government has remained dismal.
It is hoped that the aforesaid bills should it be enacted into law, could help strengthen the BFP operations to become more responsive to the challenges of the time. (PIA) [top]