by Jane B. Cadlalig
Lack of manpower and constant “movement” of personnel remain among the major challenges faced by the Bureau of Fire Protection-Cordillera in fulfilling its mandate to keep communities safe from fire.
BFP Regional Director Maria Sofia Mendoza said while firefighters in the region are adequately equipped in terms of capability and skills, their number remains a challenge for the agency.
The agency currently has 691 personnel spread out in 58 fire stations all over the region.
Based on the region’s population of around 1.6 million people and number of firefighters, Mendoza said the agency lacks 175 fire officers to meet the ideal ratio of one firefighter for every 2,000 people.
Based on the number of fire trucks, the region needs 353 firefighters to complete the number of personnel who are supposed to man the 67 fire trucks spread all over the region’s fire stations. Ideally, there should be 14 personnel deployed in every fire truck.
Mendoza said the BFP has been steadfast in equipping the agency with qualified personnel through its recruitment program. BFP-Cordillera opened 77 slots for applicants of fire officers in March.
The continuous request of fire officers to be transferred to their places of abode also adds to the challenges confronting the BFP.
In Apayao, Fire Marshall Jesus Sugui said firefighters who are not from the province usually request for transfer after they have served the locality for three years, which adds to the problem on lack of manpower.
“We have no problem with the ability of our firefighters to adapt to the areas they are assigned in, but when they request to be transferred to their own places, our manpower is affected,” he said.
The BFP had been encouraging qualified fire officers to apply in their areas of residence to remedy the problem on personnel movement brought about by requests for transfers.