Every March we hold the Fire Prevention Month to spread awareness on the importance of taking preventive measures against fire incidents. We hold Fire Prevention Month every March because it usually has the most fire incidents than any other month in a year. During Fire Prevention Month, the Bureau of Fire Protection, and all other departments and institutions concerned, ramp up their information campaign and hold community activities to get citizens involved.
However, the first week of March started badly with several fires razing neighborhoods across Metro Manila. Thousands of lives were affected and properties worth millions of pesos were lost in the first few days of Fire Prevention Month.
The month started with a blazing commercial building in Araneta Ave., Quezon City, which firefighters have been trying to put out since the afternoon of February 28. The fire in the 7-storey building was finally put out before dawn on March 2. Thankfully, only one person was injured and there were no casualties reported. However, numerous more disastrous fires occurred in the Metro within the period. Two more fire emergencies were reported on the eve of March 1 in Baragay Pinagbuhatan, Pasig and Cubao, Quezon City. The fire in Quezon City razed thirteen houses; meanwhile the fire in Pasig City left 1,000 families homeless.
The city of Manila also saw a devastating fire that destroyed the homes of 10,000 families. The fire occurred in Parola Compound, Tondo. It ravaged a one hectare lot and caused damage to property amounting to P55 million.
The number of incidents continued to rise rapidly, and just within the period of March 1 to March 3, a total of 23 fires were reported to have occurred throughout the country.
Nationwide awareness campaigns certainly help in informing citizens on the fire hazards and the steps to take in a fire emergency. With more fires quickly ravaging parts of the country though, mere information campaigns may not be enough to lessen the number and severity of fire emergencies during the hot summer months. Sadly, the BFP may not be able to contribute more with the department stretched thin and supplies being minimal. It is reported that the BFP requires 1000 more fire trucks yet they have only been supplied with 469 this month.
Another factor in the problem lies with citizens who sit back and forget to work on the information given. Most of the rampant fire incidents could have been easily avoided had they exercised more vigilance and caution. Many citizens may not be consciously practicing the information disseminated to them. Simple prudent acts such as avoiding overcharging gadgets, remaining vigilant when using lit candles, and closing gas stoves when not in use are forgotten easily. This is despite several warnings and reminders from the BFP, NGOs, and even the media.
And if small steps like these are not taken seriously, imagine how difficult it will be for people to voluntarily work on more complicated fire preventive measures. It will be harder to motivate them to take on tasks such as doing routine checks for faulty wiring with an electrical engineer, creating fire escape plans for the home, and keeping a fire extinguisher and knowing how it functions.
While it can be said that a solution for this problem is to come up with additional campaigns that gives incentives and rewards good behavior, for an issue that concerns our safety, it should be up to us citizens to carry out and maintain the suggested fire preventive measures from the BFP. The safety and well-being of us and our families should be enough incentive to act on the information given to us. Whether we live in a house, apartment, or condominium, we should take it upon ourselves to consciously and actively make the necessary preventions that we can, not only during Fire Prevention Month, but also throughout the year.
If you would like to know more about what steps you should take to keep you and your family safe from fire emergencies, we’ve recently updated our fire safety article for your reference here.