As a concrete proof of its full and unwavering support to the local fire fighters, the City Government of Valenzuela, through the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (LDRRMC) turned over eight (8) units of fire trucks worth PhP 15,075,000 to the Bureau of Fire Protection- Valenzuela City in a move to promote better and faster response to fire emergency situations in the City.
The turnover is a validation of City Mayor Sherwin T. Gatchalian’s aim of strengthening the capability of the local fire bureau as part of the disaster preparedness and response management program of the city. It is consistent with the City’s development initiatives for continuous improvement of basic services provided for the Valenzuelanos.
Last month, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Chief F/Dir Rolando M. Bandilla, Jr. declared that aside from the shortage in fire fighters, one of the problems that the agency is equally facing is the perennial concern in the shortage of fire trucks. The BFP-VC only has three operational fire trucks, one of which was also previously donated by the City Government. These are not enough to cover 32 barangays of a city with a land area of 44.59 square kilometers. “The BFP has an annual procurement plan,” the Fire Chief was quoted in recent reports, “but the budget is never enough for everything we need.”
Mayor WIN assured BFP-VC that the purchase of additional two fire trucks is now being processed. The City is also looking for areas to build fire sub-stations. “We think only of efficient services to the people. We know that the BFP is short of budget and we feel it is our duty to help in assuring the welfare of our people,” Mayor WIN said in a statement.
From the data released by the BFP-NCR, 70 areas have been identified to be in need of fire stations. These consist of seven commercial, four government centers and 50 barangays in which Barangays Punturin, Bignay and Lawang Bato in Valenzuela City are included. This is due to their distance away from the nearest fire station, the Central Fire Station in Barangay Malinta, which is more than 30 minutes drive far off. “Enough time for fire to engulf a neighborhood with houses made of light materials,” BFP-VC’s FO1 John Noel Sentillas assessed.
BFP sets the ideal ratio of fire fighters to residents at one fire fighter to 2,000 residents.
Valenzuela City currently has 107 fire fighters serving a population of more than 500,000 which make the fire fighter to residents ratio at 1:5,317. It means that the BFP-VC needs about 248 more fire fighters to effectively save lives and property in case of fire.
On the national level, with the 94 million population of the country, the BFP would require 30,000 more personnel.
On the other hand, the ideal ratio of fire fighters per every fire truck is 14:1. With the turnover of another eight fire trucks, BFP-VC will have a ratio of 9.7:1.
However, there were only 116 recorded major and minor fire incidents during the first half of the year, compared to 163 during the same period in 2010. This is partly credited to BFP-VC and the LDRRMC’s drive that aims to teach residents valuable fire-safety measures.
The City also upholds the Bantay Sunog Fire Prevention Program which is geared towards training community volunteers with the necessary skills and knowledge in handling disasters, especially fire outbreaks. It also aims to organize immediate, community-level response in case of emergencies.
BFP-National Capital Region (NCR) Director F/CSupt Santiago Laguna and City Fire Marshall F/Supt Mel Jose Lagan received the fire trucks in behalf of the BFP-VC. Other City and BFP Officials and guests from various sectors led by Pasig City Lone District Representative, Cong. Roman T. Romulo (C) witnessed the turnover that highlighted the 142nd Birth Anniversary of the local hero, Dr. Pio Valenzuela.