TACLOBAN CITY – At least 56 of the 136 towns in the region have no fire stations despite of a law requiring each city and municipality to have a government-owned firefighting facility. Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Regional Director Supt. Pablito Cordeta said the region also needs about 1,000 firemen or half of the region’s number of firefighting personnel. “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,” Cordeta said.

Samar province has the most number of areas without fire stations and fire trucks as 16 of its towns have no fire stations of their own. These are the towns of Almagro, Calbiga, Matuguinao, Motiong, San Sebastian, Sta. Rita, Sto. Niño, Daram, Hinabangan, Jiabong, San Jorge, San Jose de Buan, Talalora, Tagapul-an, Tarangnan, and Zumarraga. In Eastern Samar, these towns are Balangiga, Gen. MacArthur, Hernani, Jipapad, Llorente, Maslog, Maydolong, Mercedes, Quinapondan, Salcedo, San Julian, San Policarpo and Balangkayan.

Without fire stations in Northern Samar are the towns of Biri, Bobon, Lapinig, Mapanas, Rosario, San Vicente, Silvino Lobos, and Victoria. Cordeta said that even the more accessible towns of Leyte such as Bato, Javier, Julita, La Paz, Macarthur, Mayorga, San Miguel, and Tabango have no fire stations too. In Biliran province, towns without firefighting equipment are Culaba and Maripipi. Also included in the long list of BFP are the towns of Anahawan, Hinundaya, Limasawa, Malitbog, Padre Burgos, Pintuyan, San Francisco, Silago, and Tomas Oppus, all in Southern Leyte.

Budget constraints only allowed the BFP regional office to establish fire stations and acquire fire trucks for 20 towns in the past four years. “The national government needs P2.5 million to establish fire station and P4 million to acquire a fire truck. We also have to hire 14 firemen to man a fire station 24 hours. Each fireman has an average salary of P16,000 monthly,” Cordeta explained. The official hopes that the extent of the problem will be reduced this year as the Department of the Interior and Local Government is set to establish 469 fire stations nationwide. The BFP is stepping up its fire prevention drive in Eastern Visayas even as the bureau noted that 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 incident in their own houses and in the community.
“Safety is everybody’s concern, get informed and be involved. Our appeal to the people is to police themselves, their family and their neighbors,” he added.

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 if fire prone areas. Firemen will also share tips on safety measures at home, escape plan, exit in the home, and how to use the fire extinguisher. (SARWELL Q.MENIANO)