‘Informal settlers’ colonies fire hazard’

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Squatters’ colonies or informal settlements serve as a breeding ground of fire hazards, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said over the weekend.

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BFP chief Director Bobby Baruelo said for as long as such colonies exist, the bureau cannot assure that zero-fire incidents will be possible.

BFP records, according to Baruelo, showed that most fire incidents all over the country struck densely populated areas of informal settlers.

He said residents in these areas continue to ignore government reminders about fire safety and consciousness.

“[The attitude of the informal settlers is that they don’t listen. They refuse to attend scheduled seminars or lectures in their barangay (villages). They always say, ‘Will those lectures be able to feed us’]?” a visibly upset fire chief said.

Fire fighters, however, will not stop visiting fire-prone areas to remind residents about fire prevention.

Before the kick-off to Fire Prevention Month (March), Baruelo said residents especially in Metro Manila should expect firemen to be visible in their respective areas for fire safety awareness campaigns.

Banking on a successful formula that resulted in a sharp decrease of fire incidents, the BFP-National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila) has made the fire safety awareness campaigns year-round activities.

The Metro Manila Fire Department recently launched the “Lingguhang Babala para Iwas Disgrasya,” to remind the public about fire prevention.

The BFP-NCR director, Senior Supt. Wilberto Rico Neil Kwan-Tiu, said that under the project, firemen will be deployed outside offices and make a round of the villages every week to drive home the reminders.

The reminders include checking LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) tanks for leaks, not leaving a lighted candle overnight and avoiding use of extension cords or “octopus” electrical connections.

BFP-NCR records show that the common causes of fire are faulty electrical wiring, lighted cigarette butts, open flames from torches and unattended stoves, candles and gas lamps.

JING VILLAMENTE

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