By Joseph B.A. Marzan
The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) is set to kick off its activities for the annual Fire Prevention Month this week throughout the city and province of Iloilo to remind the public of individual and collective responsibilities in preventing fires in homes and communities.
Fire Superintendent Publio Ploteña, BFP Iloilo Provincial chief, told Aksyon Radyo Iloilo on Sunday that this year’s Fire Prevention Month celebration will kick off with a motorcade in Iloilo City and the province on March 1, 2023.
During the motorcade, trucks will be grouped into two according to size, with smaller fire trucks traversing smaller roads, and the bigger ones expected to ply city, provincial, and national roads.
Fire stations across the city and the province will simultaneously sound their sirens to signal the start of the Fire Prevention Month.
“Since we have low-lying areas and narrower roads, these will be the roads where [smaller] trucks will be going through, to remind [the public],” Ploteña said.
Other activities include a simultaneous roadshow at malls featuring lectures, fire prevention and rescue equipment, promotion of fire services, and distribution of informational and educational materials, organizing of Community Fire Auxiliary Groups, the routine ‘Oplan Ligtas Pamayanan’, and barangay fire drills, among others.
Learners from basic education schools will also be invited to essay- and poster-making contests, in partnership with local Department of Education (DepEd) offices, which will have local (municipal or city), provincial, and regional-level tilts.
Since face-to-face classes have returned to school premises, the BFP station will also spearhead and assist in fire drills in schools to help learners understand preventing fires, and how to respond to them when they actually happen.
Ploteña said the ultimate obligation in preventing fires, not only during the month of March, is with the public who maintain their residences and businesses.
“These [fire prevention month] activities keep coming back [every year], and the people are the ones who have the obligation, not just us from the BFP and other government agencies do this. Fires keep coming,” he remarked.
“[BFP Region 6] Director and Chief Superintendent Jerry Candido always emphasizes, ‘What is it on the part of the community that is lacking that needs to be done, for their protection and to prevent fires?’” he added.
Fire Prevention Month was first instituted via Proclamation No. 115-A issued by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in 1966, as part of declaring 1967 as the first Safety and Accident Prevention Year.
The BFP, as the country’s chief fire prevention authority, has been mandated to anchor activities toward fire safety at home, and keep the issue of fire safety as a public concern.
Ploteña explained that the rationale for the celebration being held in March was because of the high density of air coupling with the heat of the summer sun during the month, which he said can be the cause of some major fires in that month in the past.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Sa Pag-iwas sa Sunog, Hindi ka Nag-iisa”.