March 1, 2024

The regional office of the Bureau of Fire Protection-Cordillera is stepping up efforts to prevent fires especially with the looming effects of El Niño.

Senior Fire Officer I Leo Mendoza of BFP-Cordillera said they have intensified awareness campaigns on fire safety by distributing information and education campaign materials, and holding community engagements. The BFP is also enhancing coordination with local government units and other relevant agencies to ensure a prompt response in case of fire emergency.

He said it is important for the public to know the hotline of fire stations in their area so that they can report fire incidents promptly, allowing firefighters to respond swiftly and effectively.

“As a concerned citizen, dapat tumulong tayo,” Mendoza said.

He also emphasized the importance of practicing caution and responsibility when smoking, especially during dry and windy conditions, as it can easily escalate fire risks.

He advises the public not to overload electrical circuits by putting additional lights and appliances, as this can lead to fires incidents.

BFP-CAR is also strengthening the Community Fire Auxiliary Groups (CFAG) that are considered as the first responders of fire incidents in their respective areas.

Mendoza shared that with the support of the concerned local government units, the BFP targets barangay officials who will undergo training for the CFAG program.

The training aims to equip barangay officials with the knowledge and skills to effectively respond to fire incidents in their communities.

“We are prioritizing the high-risk fire prone areas. We train them to lessen fire incidents, basic first aid, and basic life support,” he shared.

To further raise awareness about fire safety, the BFP tailor-fitted the training to meet the needs of different sectors.

With the impending effects of El Niño, Mendoza said that the Implan and Oplan for El Niño of the BFP are ready and have been activated since 2015.

This provides policies, guidelines, procedures, and interventions that the BFP must implement during the phenomenon.

Readiness, response, relief and recovery, and rehabilitation phases are in place to handle any potential emergency or disaster caused by El Niño.

Based on the meteorological dry spell/drought conditions outlook released by Pagasa on Dec. 18, Benguet, Kalinga, and Apayao will experience drought, while Abra, Ifugao, and Mountain Province will experience dry spell by the end of January 2024.

All of the provinces in the Cordillera are expected to experience drought by the end of February until April 2024. – Debbie E. Gasingan