Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, December 24, 2004


Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. said yesterday his proposed P35-million program to modernize the fire-fighting capability of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) should include asbestos suits, hydraulic cutters and other modern gear to save people trapped in burning buildings.

Wasting no time to modernize the BFP after the tragic death of his daughter, Kristina Casimira, last week, De Venecia invited the Subic firefighting unit to the Dusit Hotel in Makati City to demonstrate how the use of modern equipment made it the country’s best equipped firefighting unit.

The Subic firefighters are capable of putting out blazes and rescuing people trapped in burning buildings or under earthquake debris. "This (modern equipment) will prevent the loss of lives due to ill-equipped fire-fighting units," De Venecia said.

He said this modernization program could be the "legacy of my daughter KC," who perished last week when she was trapped in a fire that razed the De Venecia home at Dasmariñas Village in Makati City.
De Venecia made three attempts together with firefighters to reach his daughter, but the lack of adequate fire-fighting equipment prevented them from reaching her.

He said President Arroyo has already endorsed his proposal to include a P35-million fund in the 2005 national budget to launch a drive to modernize the government’s fire-fighting units under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). De Venecia said he has also secured the approval of Senate President Franklin Drilon and House appropriations committee chairman and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, Jr.

The proposed fund will be tackled at the level of the bicameral conference, which is expected to convene in late January or early February, to hammer out the final version of the 2005 national budget. "This is just the initial amount to catalyze the modernization of the (BFP’s) fire-fighting capability," said De Venecia. "We will steadily build it up."

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Administrator Freddie Antonio were also at the Dusit Hotel, along with BFP officer-in-charge Brig. Gen. Rogelio Asignado, Fire District 3 director Supt. Ruben Morales, SBMA fire department assistant chief Ranny Magno. Asignado’s jurisdiction covers five cities in southern Metro Manila, including Makati City.

Magno and his SBMA fire crew demonstrated the use of hydraulic tools and cutters, circular saws, air chisels, metal cutters, fire blankets and airbags that can lift up to 70 tons of debris in collapsed buildings. The Subic fire crew also demonstrated the use of asbestos and structural suits worn when firefighters need to enter burning buildings.

"This demonstrates how we can save the lives of the elderly, the sick, the young and people in burning buildings," De Venecia said. "That’s why we approved the fund to modernize the government’s fire-fighting crews." The BFP upgrades are long overdue, with the clamor for better equipment and training for fire-fighters dating back to the mid- 1990s.

The modernization of the BFP will begin in the biggest cities of Metro Manila, Luzon and urban centers in the main islands of the Visayas and Mindanao.
Eventually, De Venecia seeks to upgrade the equipment of fire-fighting crews in each of the over 80 cities and 1,500 municipalities in the country


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