by Monica Mirjana S. Cruz
“Isulong ang kaunlaran, sunog ay pwedeng iwasan, kaalaman at pag-iingat ang kailangan.” This is the theme for this year’s National Fire Prevention Month.
According to Chief Inspector Eric G. Tioco, fire marshal of the Los Baños Bureau of Fire Protection Office (BFPO), reported fire cases in the municipality increased from 24 in 2012 to 30 in 2013. As of March this year, there have been six reported cases of fire-related incidents in Los Baños.
Based on the BFPO reports, the most common cause of fire in Los Baños, especially in 2013 was grass fire. Other cases were structural fires, which were mainly traced back to children playing with matches, unmonitored cooking, faulty wiring, and arson. Fire Marshall Tioco, however, emphasized that cases of arson are rare.
BFPO assured the Los Baños residents that their office will be providing intensified service in their programs and campaigns for the fire prevention month celebration.
Tioco explained that there are four main programs under this month’s celebration, namely: interschool fire safety awareness and education for elementary and high school students, house-to-house fire safety inspection, ugnayan sa barangay, and fire drill in all government and private buildings.
These programs aim to increase the awareness of Los Baños residents and educate them about fire safety in order to avoid fire cases and casualties.
BFPO coordinates with various schools in Los Baños to schedule seminars on fire safety and field trips to the Los Baños fire station where students meet with fire fighters and get oriented on the parts and functions of fire trucks.
Fire Marshal Tioco explained that BFPO conducts house and office visits not only to disseminate information on fire safety but also to check for fire hazards in the households. The fire inspector examines if houses/offices have appropriate firefighting equipment such as fire extinguisher and a fire exit. The inspector also inspects the buildings’ electrical wirings.
In the event of fire code violations, building/office owner is given a week to comply with the requirements. Tioco explained that building inspections in different barangays are conducted all year round to ensure that these structures are safe for occupancy.
Under the Ugnayan sa Barangay, BFPO coordinates with the barangays to conduct seminars about fire safety. According to Tioco, BFPO distributes information, education, and communication (IEC) materials from the national office to the seminar participants from the barangays.
BFPO also conducts fire drills in different Los Baños institutions, both in the government and private sector. Fire fighters provide live demonstrations on what to do in case of fire in their workplace. The evacuation plan is also being presented and/or reviewed among building occupants to prepare them in case of fire and other emergency situations.
Tioco emphasized the importance of parents allotting time to discuss the fire escape plan in their respective residences with the family members to avoid and/or minimize injuries and damages during emergency situations.