By Gerico Sabalza and Lizbeth Ann Abella
TACLOBAN CITY — The national government has turned over to Eastern Visayas eight out of the 51 new fire trucks recently acquired for the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
This city is a recipient of the 2,500-gallon capacity fire truck. The towns of San Juan, Libagon, Padre Burgos, Tomas Oppus, and Sogod in Southern Leyte province, Biliran in Biliran, and Pastrana in Leyte, each received a unit of the 1,000-gallon capacity fire truck.
S/Supt. Renato Marcial, BFP regional director, said on Monday the trucks will boost the firefighting capability of the regional bureau in ensuring the safety of communities and industries.
President Rodrigo Duterte led the ceremonial turnover of fire trucks to mayors on Feb. 12 at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo.
Marcial said there were criteria in selecting the recipient local government, including frequency of fire incident in the area, number of population, and income class of municipality town.
The new Isuzu motors-made fire trucks are powered by Euro-IV compliant six-cylinder turbocharged engines with corrosion-resistant stainless steel tanks. The modern fire assets are user-friendly.
At present, there are a total of 195 fire trucks throughout the region while 23 towns are still without firefighting facilities, he said.
“Procurement concerns in the past have been the setback in our goal to equip each town with the necessary firefighting equipment and facilities. But now, it is already on the pipeline through the modernization program of the national government, wherein these towns are the priority,” Marcial told reporters.
He added a PHP10-billion budget has been set aside to capacitate all cities and towns with necessary firefighting facilities.
In order to maximize the minimum resources, Marcial said those old fire trucks were pulled out and distributed to towns without it.
He said the BFP’s “Oplan Ligtas na Pamayanan” has been concentrated in far-flung districts and towns with no firefighting facilities, and is capacitating volunteer firefighters who will act as force multipliers in fire-protection related activities in the area.
“The best defense against fire is awareness and empowerment of people on how to prevent such incidences in their houses and in the community. As much as possible, we do not want to utilize these facilities and equipment in a sense that no fire incident will happen,” Marcial said.
Eastern Visayas Region has recorded 306 fire incidents last year. (PNA)