by Jimmy K. Laking
The head of La Trinidad’s Fire Station, which lost two of its men to a landslide while doing rescue work at the height of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009, last week said his men have learned costly lessons as a result and are now more prepared to cope with disasters.
S/Insp. Saturnino K. Labbag, municipal fire marshal, said that compared to 2009, his men now have access to better equipment in addition to four fire trucks on standby.
Two of the fire station’s personnel, Richard Balusdan and Siegfred Ngoloban, died when they were covered by a rush of mud and boulders while doing rescue work in Barangay Poblacion on Oct. 9, 2009. A third fireman was injured but survived.
The incident also claimed the lives of former police man Rex Mang-oy and sportsman Eduard Dulnuan who rushed to the scene to help in rescue work.
Barangay officials said rescuers were hampered by lack of fog or spotlight.
Labbag said the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council headed by Yoshio Labi now has an array of equipment to cope with any disaster, including spotlights and protective gears.
“The equipment are centralized under Labi’s care and can be accessed at the first sign of calamity,” he said.
Labbag said the council is comprised of volunteers from different offices and departments that could be mobilized at any moment’s notice.
The council has been monitoring identified risky areas including Little Kibungan in Barangay Puguis, the 2009 landslide site in Barangay Poblacion and the Km. 3 to Km. 4 stretch.
At the same time, Labbag thanked Hedcor for donating to the station two sets of brand new computers worth P54,000, adding it would help strengthen the capability of the fire station in providing services to the community.
The computers were turned over by Hedcor personnel Romeo Catingub, Engr. Harbelo Abrisike, Claren Padinay and Florentino Castro.
The computers were received by Insp. Mark A. Challongen in behalf of the fire station.