Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday said he will push for the allocation of PHP10 billion for the modernization of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
Año said one of the vital components of the modernization program is to ensure that all municipalities have their own fire trucks and fire stations, modern equipment and apparatus and seven-foot fire truck ladders.
In November last year, the House Committee on Public Order and Safety approved a substitute bill that would provide a P10-billion fund allocation for the modernization program of the BFP.
“Yung kayang pumasok ng ating mga firemen kahit na may usok. Hindi pa naman tapos yung session sa Congress, hanggang June pa, sana maipasa yung modernization program [So that our firemen can enter areas where there is heavy smoke. The Congress’ session is still until June. We hope it will pass the modernization program],” Año told reporters after the BFP Change of Command held at Camp Karingal in Sikatuna Village, Quezon City.
Currently, BFP has 24,000 personnel and there is only one truck available for every 28,000 people, he said.
“So patuloy tayo habang dumadami ang population dapat nai-increase din yung ating (As our population continues to grow, this must also be the case for our) personnel at equipment,” he said.
During the ceremony, Fire Chief Supt. Jose Embang formally replaced Fire Director Leonard Bañago who retired from the service upon turning 56 on Tuesday.
Under the leadership of Bañago, the BFP upgraded its response capabilities by procuring more firetrucks from Japan and South Korea including aerial ladder trucks, chemical trucks, and rescue trucks.
The BFP successfully obtained the accreditation for ISO Certification, crafted and implemented the Oplan Ligtas na Pamayanan (OLP), and revised the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 9514, or the Fire Code of the Philippines.
Under his watch, the BFP obtained, among others, jurisdiction on fire safety inspection to all PEZA zones and establishments, constructed more fire stations, completed the new five-story building at BFP National Headquarters, and standardized the BFP uniforms.
As the national focal point person for chemical biological radioactive nuclear (CBRN) issues of the Philippines, Embang was able to propose and had approved and implemented more or less 30 CBRN projects for the Philippines in areas of forensics, response equipment grant, raising of awareness, and design/build Biological Safety Level Laboratory.
Embang represented and acted as the lead Philippine contingent for the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting of experts in Palais des Nations, Geneva in November 2016.
He also facilitated the CBRN capacity building programs of the Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police and other agencies. He was also pioneering chief of the BFP’s elite force, the Special Rescue Unit (SRU), that was established in 1991.
Embang hails from the Philippine National Police Academy Class 1987 “Tagapaglingkod” and thereafter joined the Philippine Constabulary–Integrated National Police before entering the Bureau of Fire Protection in its establishment as a separate agency in 1990. (PNA)