September 17, 2020
Dela Rosa bats for BFP modernization
Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa is pushing for the modernization of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) after it was made clear that the agency lags behind its foreign counterparts.
Through Senate Bill No. 1832 or the “Bureau of Fire Protection Modernization Act of 2020,” Dela Rosa seeks to provide the bureau with modern fire fighting tools and life-saving equipment, additional personnel and relevant training of said personnel. During the hearing of the bills on BFP modernization conducted by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by Dela Rosa, BFP Chief Director Jose Embang revealed that the Philippines is far behind its counterparts around the world in terms of personnel, training and equipment; and expressed that it is crucial for the country to maintain international fire safety standards.
Dela Rosa stressed that it is high time to modernize the fire bureau considering the expanded duties and responsibilities of its personnel.
“The BFP is the country’s primary agency responsible for fire safety, prevention and suppression, as mandated by Republic Act No. 6975. The BFP personnel go beyond their duties of being firefighters as they perform key roles in rescue and retrieval operations in times of calamities and unforeseen disasters,” Dela Rosa said.
Dela Rosa also added that according to the BFP, “they now also cater to the public need for emergency pre-hospital care, act as the first line of defense in mass casualty incidents, hazardous material incident response, technical rescue/extrication, and participate in other specialized areas of responses to a variety of incidents that endanger lives and properties.”
With these tasks, Dela Rosa emphasized that “the BFP is considered as among the most ‘undermanned’ and ‘under-equipped’ government agencies” in the country. Dela Rosa substantiated this statement by presenting the data from the BFP showing that out of 146 cities and 1,488 municipalities in the Philippines, only 1,368 combined have fire stations and fire trucks.
The same data show that there are a total of 2,848 fire trucks nationwide. Of this number, 2,358 are BFP-owned, while 490 are LGU-owned.
“We are far from reaching the ideal ratio of one fire truck for every 28,000 people. For a country with a population of 109 million, we must have at least 3,892 fire trucks,” Dela Rosa explained.
To address the issue of lack of personnel, the Bureau shall undergo Force Restructuring and Organizational Development as one of the components of the BFP Modernization Program under the bill. It aims to revise the organizational structure and staffing pattern of the Bureau to develop it to a more efficient and responsive agency. “At present, there are a total of 405 civilian personnel and 27,968 uniformed personnel in the BFP. Currently, the proportion of fire trucks to fire officers is 1 is to 10, compared to the ideal ratio of one (1) firetruck is to fourteen (14) fire officers.”
Senate Bill No.1832 under Committee Report No. 111 or the BFP Modernization Act of 2020 is the substitute bill for Senate Bills No. 204, 947 and 1017 authored by Senators Go, Sotto, and Revilla, respectively.
It will be recalled that during his 5th State-of-the-Nation Address last July, President Duterte asked Congress to pass legislation to modernize the BFP. This is the second SONA where the Chief Executive made such an appeal to the legislative branch.
In support of the President’s call, Dela Rosa appealed to his fellow legislators for the immediate passage of the BFP Modernization bill.
“Your Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs agrees with President Duterte — there is a need to modernize our fire bureau to better save and protect the Filipino people. I urge the body to immediately pass this long overdue legislative measure to help the BFP in pursuing its mandate of ‘promoting public safety by saving lives and protecting property in times of emergencies.” Dela Rosa ended.