Star City: We are not aware of any motive for arson

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 7, 2019   •   553

The Star City management on Sunday (October 6) said they were not aware of any motive that would “induce the commission of arson.”

This is in response to the statement of the Bureau of Fire Protection maintaining the possibility of arson in the Star City fire.

Pasay City Fire Marshall Superintendent Paul Pili said arson might be the possible cause for the rapid spread of fire at Star City on Wednesday (October 2) morning.

The BFP also found traces of gasoline in unusual places as well as the suspicious entry of unidentified personnel carrying bags of cotton.

However, in a statement, Star City officials said it is not unusual for persons to bring cotton in the establishment.

“That there were some persons that brought in cotton is NOT unusual because cotton filling is being used to stuff toys redeemed in games. In fact, most if not all of the stuffed toys are filled with cotton. Almost all theme parks, including those outside of the Philippines, sell or give as prizes, stuffed toys in the ordinary course of their business,” according to the statement.

“There is gasoline inside the Star City Complex because there is a ride that runs on gasoline particularly the Bumper Boat,” the statement further reads.

The management also said it was ‘inappropriate’ to release statements to the media first regarding arson as the cause of the fire.

“We feel that it was inappropriate, to say the least, to release statements to media first regarding arson as the cause of fire when the investigation is not clearly concluded and before taking up such matter with Star City’s Management, the principal party concerned,” according to the management.—AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Modernization plan seen to boost performance of BFP

Maris Federez   •   July 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) on Tuesday, July 28, said it is looking forward to the planned modernization of the agency as mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

In a phone interview, BFP Director Jose Embang, Jr admitted that the agency is now being left behind as compared with the other fire departments in other countries.

Embang said that what they need to be on par with other countries in meeting and maintaining international standards is additional personnel, as well as equipment, training, and salary increase.

He said what the President mentioned in his SONA will be a great help to the agency.

“Ngayon lang nagkaroon, nabanggit ng isang Pangulo na dalawang beses ang modernization ng Bureau of Fire since last year, nabanggit n’ya na ‘yan, tapos ngayong nabanggit na naman n’ya. Given by the fact siguro na s’ya ay naging mayor sa Davao ng ilang dekada at nakita n’ya ang importance ng isang fire department sa isang bayan,” Embang said.

He added that the agency has only around 29,000 personnel nationwide and what they need is double that number.

He said that to be able to recruit the additional 30,000 personnel, they have to offer a more competitive salary.

He explained that more than being firefighters, the BFP is also among the first to respond to rescue operations during disasters and emergencies.

“Ini-ensure n’ya na ang lahat ng tao na nakatira sa mga establishment ay safe from destructive fires, isa lang ‘yun, prevention,” he said.

The BFP is also a support group to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in national emergencies and in fighting terrorism.

“Sini-secure n’ya ‘yung mga taong affected ng isang emergency bago ‘yung investigation, bago dumating ‘yung iba-ibang mga unit,” Embang said.

To perform these things, Embang said, the BFP would need equipment such as additional fire trucks, ladders, platforms, ambulances, rescue trucks, and hazardous materials trucks.

“Importanteng-importante po ‘yang hazardous materials truck, kasi ‘yan po ‘yung nagre responde sa mga chemical spill, sa mga bio kagaya ng COVID, sa mga radiological incident, ‘yan po ‘yung hazardous materials na tinatawag,” the BFP official further explained.

The agency is also planning to procure choppers to be used in transporting victims from high-rise buildings or forest fires, as well as rescue boats, and drones. — (from the report of Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

DILG directs BFP to assist in transfer of COVID-19 patients to isolation facilities

Robie de Guzman   •   July 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday ordered the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to assist in the implementation of the government’s Oplan Kalinga program.

“The BFP is part of the Municipal/City COVID-19 Task Forces and in this capacity they have been assisting the City/Municipal Health Office transport COVID patients since the start of the pandemic. In fact, they have so far transported 1,674 COVID patients nationwide,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement.

Año said the BFP’s Emergency Medical Service and Special Rescue Units have the necessary health personnel and equipment in the transportation of COVID patients.

Under the Oplan Kalinga program, the local government unit’s (LGU) Local Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, assisted by policemen, will go house-to-house to search for COVID-19 cases that should be transferred to quarantine facilities.

The DILG chief said that assigning the BFP in the movement of COVID patients to isolation facilities is nothing new since it has been doing this since the beginning of the pandemic.

He noted that since the start of the public health crisis, the BFP has mobilized 73.80% of the total BFP personnel or 20,947 officers out of the 29,383 total manpower to different tasks as part of DILG’s efforts to defeat COVID-19.

“We have deployed 98 BFP EMS ambulances, 35 Rescue/HazMat vehicles, 970 firetrucks and 114 BFP service vehicles for the DILG’s over-all COVID 19 response,” he said.

He also directed the BFP to intensify its contact tracing efforts as part of the local contact tracing and monitoring teams. “The BFP’s contact tracing efforts have assisted in the tracing of the close contacts of some 18,871 patients,” he said.

BFP forms special investigation team to probe ‘Boracay 27’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 18, 2020

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has formed a special investigation team to probe on the so-called ‘Boracay 27’ or the BFP personnel who breached quarantine protocols in Boracay.

BFP Director Jose Embang Jr. said they are prepared to file the necessary complaints once the 27 involved personnel are found guilty of breaching quarantine protocols.

The Boracay 27 reportedly visited the island from June 12 to 14 for a despedida party. One of them later tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Iimbestigahan sila and then kasuhan, kung talagang nag-violate sila ng quarantine, anyway rest assured na hindi tinotolerate ng Bureau of Fire Protection ang mga ganyang practices and whoever be found guilty, then they will suffer kung ano man ang consequences niyan (They will be investigated and will be charged if they really violated quarantine protocols. Anyway, rest assured the BFP does not tolerate these practices and whoever be found guilty will suffer the consequences),” he said.

Embang also said the 196 personnel in BFP Western Visayas Region underwent rapid COVID-19 testing and will be in quarantine while awaiting their test results.

Meanwhile, the BFP Chief of Western Visayas F/SSupt. Roderick Aguto has been relieved from office. Former Director of BFP Logistics in the National Headquarters F/SSupt. Jerry Candido was assigned as the officer-in-charge. –ACC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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