Senior Supt. Maria Sofia Mendoza of the Bureau of Fire discusses on Wednesday the importance of public-private partnership to prevent the occurrence of fire and how to suppress it. (Photo by Pamela Mariz Geminiano)
BAGUIO CITY -- The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)-Cordillera is preparing for El Niño or dry spell that can cause wildfires and structural fires in the region starting March.
"Due to the impending El Niño or dry spell, we are in a high risk of having forest fires and other cases [fire incidents] that is what we need to prepare for," Fire Senior Supt. Maria Sofia Mendoza, BFP Cordillera regional director, said in a press conference on Wednesday.
"Forest fires affect and destroy our national heritage. Look at the fire incident that happened in Kabayan, Benguet that reached Mount Pulag," she said.
She said the BFP, together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Office of the Civil Defense and other stakeholders, will sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA), seeking to create a task force that will monitor forest fires in the region as well as conduct information campaign on fire prevention.
Meanwhile, the BFP advises the public to unplug electrical wires if not in use, avoid octopus’ connections, not to start fire outdoor and leave it unattended, and not to play with matches or lighters.
Mendoza said fire prevention is a concern that must be inculcated in everyone.
"Inter-agency multi-sectoral coordination and cooperation is needed to secure the people and their properties, and protect the environment," she said.
As part of the collaboration, the partnership with the different water delivery businesses will also be strengthened, she added.
"There will also be a collaboration with the different water delivery stations that will augment water resources in case there will be a water shortage," Mendoza said.
According to the country's weather bureau, the Philippines will experience more severe dry spell this year, which lowers underground water table and makes it more difficult to source water.
Mendoza said they are also eyeing to build a water basin inside forests and on mountains which can be utilized in cases of forest fires.
She said while there are firetrucks and water delivery trucks that can augment the supply of water, they would be rendered useless because of the absence of roads.
"With our geographical location, it is difficult for the firetrucks to enter forest areas, and this is one of reasons why forest fires are difficult to put out," she said, noting that a water basin is the most strategic water source for every forest fire.
Aside from building water basins, she said they will also be providing fire equipment to various forest ranger stations, which can also be utilized during emergencies.
"There will also be trainings for the forest rangers on how to put out forest fire using our equipment," she said.
In Cordillera, there are 827 fire fighters, 60 BFP fire trucks, and 15 local government unit-owned fire trucks. Private firetrucks also help in responding to fire incidents in the region. (PNA)