TACLOBAN CITY- At least 26 towns in Eastern Visayas lack firefighting facilities and many firefighters have no personal protection equipment, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) reported on Wednesday.
Senior Supt. Renato Marcial, BFP 8 (Eastern Visayas) Director, said in a press briefing they also need nearly 1,000 additional firemen to meet personnel required for the region’s 136 towns and seven cities.
The official said he hopes that the need would be addressed as soon as the Department of the Interior and Local Government has laid out its modernization program.
“Although some areas have no fire stations, they are still being served by BFP through clustering, like in some parts of Samar and Eastern Samar. Our mission is that by the year 2034, we will have a modern and highly capable fire service, but we will be able to achieve that earlier,” Marcial said.
Samar province has the most number of areas without fire stations and fire trucks. These are the towns of Almagro, Daram, San Jose de Buan, Sto. Niño, Tagapul-an, Talalora, and Zumarraga.
In Northern Samar, these are the towns of Biri, Bobon, Lapinig, Rosario, San Vicente, and Victoria. Without fire stations in Eastern Samar are the towns of Llorente, Maydolong, Mercedes, and San Julian.
Marcial said that even the more accessible towns of Leyte, such as Julita and Macarthur, do not have any fire station. Lapaz town has a fire station, but has no fire truck, according to BFP’s record.
In Biliran province, only the island town of Maripipi has no firefighting facility.
Also included in the list are the towns of Anahawan, Limasawa, Padre Burgos, Pintuyan, and Tomas Oppus in Southern Leyte.
This is already a big improvement compared to 2015 where 56 areas in the region lacked fire stations and trucks.
Procurement concerns in the past had been the setback in BFP’s goal to establish a fire station, provide one fire truck, and at least four personnel in every town.
To establish one fire station and acquire a new fire truck, the BFP needs at least PHP22 million, Marcial said.
The BFP is stepping up its fire prevention drive in Eastern Visayas, even if fire incidents in the region have not reached threatening levels in the past years.
The official said the best defense against fire is the awareness of people on how to prevent such incidents in their own houses and in the community.
This Fire Prevention Month, the BFP will distribute information materials, conduct lectures, inspect all establishments, test fire hydrants, conduct fire disaster emergency evacuation planning, conduct drills, monitor hazard operations, and identification of fire-prone areas.