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Senate approves BFP modernization bill; principally authored by Bong Go, the measure aims to strengthen government’s fire response and prevention mechanisms

March 09, 2021 - Tuesday 1:03 PM by MDM

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In a unanimous vote, the Senate in a plenary session on Monday, March 8, passed on third and final reading Senate Bill No. 1832 which seeks to modernize and improve the Bureau of Fire Protection by enhancing its mandate, organization, and equipment. 

The bill is principally authored and co-sponsored by Senator Christopher “Bong” Go and principally sponsored by Senator Ronald dela Rosa, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order. 

It is the consolidated version of SBN 204 which is authored by Go, SBN 947 authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and SBN 1017 authored by Senator Ramon Revilla Jr.

“Labis ang kirot na nararamdaman ng aking puso sa tuwing nakakakita ako ng mga pamilyang Pilipino na nawawalan ng mahal sa buhay dahil sa mga sakunang gaya ng sunog na maaari namang maiwasan,” said Go, who also serves as Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order. 

“Panahon na para i-upgrade ang pasilidad at kapabilidad ng Bureau of Fire Protection. Dapat maging mas proactive tayo. Bukod sa pagiging laging handa, dapat rin ay maging informed ang ating mga kababayan kung paano maiiwasan ang ganitong insidente, tulad ng sunog," he continued. 

SBN 1832 mandates the BFP to implement a modernization program that will be geared towards the capability enhancement of its personnel as well as the acquisition of the necessary fire prevention and suppression, fire investigation, emergency medical and rescue services facilities and equipment. 

Under the program, the BFP shall be directed to submit to the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior and Local Government, and Budget and Management a revised organization structure of the Bureau. It will likewise establish new training programs and a qualification and upgrading program for its officers and personnel. 

Meanwhile, Fire Protection Services and rescue hotlines will be established in every local government unit while specialized fire protection services shall also be created to respond to specific fire situations, such as chemical fires, high-rise building fires, forest fires, and ship and aircraft fires. 

Moreover, Search and Rescue Force and Hazardous Materials units as well as fire and arson investigation units will be established in every region and city, and Emergency Medical Services in every municipality and city. 

To improve awareness on fire safety among the public, monthly fire prevention campaigns and information drives will be carried out in partnership with the DILG and local government units. 

In addition to his duties as a legislator, Senator Go, a known advocate of fire prevention efforts, continues to conduct aid distribution activities for victims of fires and other disasters in support of the national government’s rehabilitation and response operations. 

“As I have said numerous times, I will not limit myself to serving as a Senator. Bilang public servant, magseserbisyo ako sa Pilipino kahit saan man sila sa mundo para tugunan ang mga suliranin, pakinggan ang mga hinaing, at mag-iwan ng ngiti sa oras ng kanilang pagdadalamhati,” said Go. 

“Kahit anumang problema ang kanilang hinaharap — nasunugan, nabahaan o naapektuhan ng pagputok ng bulkan, — handa akong tumulong at maserbisyo sa Pilipino sa abot ng aking makakaya,” he vowed. 

With the observance of the Fire Prevention Month this March, Go has urged authorities to strengthen their information campaign on fire prevention throughout the country to avoid loss of lives and properties due to fire incidents.

“Hindi lamang po ang pag-modernize ng ating equipment ang makatutulong sa paglaban sa mga sunog. Mahalaga rin dito ang fire safety education. ‘Yung atin dito, kung papaano i-prevent at maturuan ang mga kababayan natin kung papaano ba maiiwasan ang mga sunog,” Go pointed out.

Sharing his experience going around the country to aid victims of fires, Go explained that fires emanate from small, crowded communities in several occasions, giving rise to the need to educate residents in these mostly impoverished communities on how to avoid fires.

“Hindi lamang po dapat ‘yung mga malalaking establishments ang tinitingnan natin. ‘Yung mga maliliit na bahay, bantayan at turuan rin natin para maiwasan ang ganitong insidente. Kadalasan dito sa mga maliliit talaga at mga liblib na lugar nagkakasunog,” he said.

With the start of the dry season, Go said that fire hazards are among the risks that threaten the safety of Filipinos as they become more frequent during this time of the year due to the high temperature and humidity.

“Hirap na hirap na po mga kababayan natin ngayon. May pandemya na tayong hinaharap na dulot ng COVID-19. May mga komunidad tayong sinusubukang bumangon mula sa mga nakaraang kalamidad. Huwag na sanang dumagdag pa ang mga krisis na kaya naman maiwasan tulad ng sunog,” Go said. 

In his previous statements, Go said that President Rodrigo Duterte, himself, understands the severity of the fire incidents the country faces, which is why fire prevention and modernization initiatives are part of the priorities of the Duterte Administration. 

In the 2021 General Appropriations Act, Go, as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, ensured that sufficient funds are provided for BFP to already start its efforts to modernize the bureau’s operations, its equipment and personnel. 

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