DILG backs House bill granting P10-billion fire modernization fund
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) thanks the House of Representatives (HOR) for the recent approval by the House Committee on Public Order and Safety of a substitute bill that would provide a P10-billion fund allocation for the modernization program of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
“We thank the House panel for recognizing the urgency of modernizing the firefighting capability of the fire bureau because this will boost its efforts to prevent and suppress fires as well as to respond to emergencies,” says DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
He says the House panel chaired by Masbate 1st District Representative Narciso Bravo increased to P10-million the originally proposed P5-billion stated in House Bill No. 2546 filed July of this year, through the bill known as the Fire Protection Modernization Act of 2019.
“The economic cost and burden of destructive fires to communities are huge and we really have to ensure that our BFP is fully equipped and ready to respond to conflagrations. The proposed P10-billion BFP modernization fund would therefore fast track the fire bureau’s efforts to update its systems, equipment, and professionalize its ranks,” Año says.
Upon the approval of the bill into law, the BFP will pursue the establishment of a fire protection service in local government units (LGUs) without existing fire protection services; will upgrade existing fire protection equipment and services; and will acquire new equipment to replace obsolete equipment.
In addition, the bill also entails the establishment of specialized services to quell forest fires, ship fires, chemical fires, airport fires, and the overall improvement of disaster rescue responsiveness. Training programs for fire personnel will also be intensified and there shall be a revised organizational structure that will include all BFP offices, the Fire Training Service, and the BFP Central and Regional Hospitals.
“Given the existing scarce resources of the BFP, P10-billion is a big help to enhance the BFP’s capability of safeguarding the populace from destructive fires. This is already a big help and a giant step to improve the fire bureau’s protection services,” he says.
Based on the latest data from the BFP, 290 towns nationwide do not have their own firetrucks and rely on the assistance of neighboring towns and cities for fire emergency response. On the other hand, 1,199 municipalities and all of the country’s 145 cities are all equipped with fire emergency vehicles at their beck and call.
The ideal ratio of fire truck to population is one (1) for every 28,000 residents.
“The safety of our people should be of paramount importance. This is why we are hoping that this proposed bill will breeze through Congress and eventually approved into law,” the DILG Secretary says.