Sotto files bill to make BFP sole enforcer of country’s Fire Code
MANILA, Philippines — As the Fire Prevention Month nears, Senate President Vicente Sotto III has filed a bill that seeks to designate the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) as the sole enforcer of the country’s fire code.
Sotto filed Senate Bill 2196 or “An Act Amending Certain Provisions of Republic Act 9514 and for Other Purposes,” which seeks to clarify the jurisdiction of the BFP in the administration and enforcement of the Fire Code of the Philippines or RA 9514 in economic zones.
Sotto noted that the BFP is mandated to enforce the law to “all persons, buildings, facilities or structures erected before or after its effectivity,” however, several government agencies, such as the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), claim jurisdiction in enforcing the Fire Code over economic zones.
“Despite the clear language of the Code, several government agencies and entities, such as the Philippine Economic Zone Authority had for a long time arrogated upon them the enforcement of the Fire Code of the Philippines to PEZA-registered economic zones,” Sotto said in a statement on Tuesday.
Sotto cited an incident in June 2017 where a former employee of the Department of Finance burned a portion of the Resorts World Manila which killed at least 37 persons.
He said the investigation of the incident revealed the overlapping authority of the BFP and PEZA in enforcing the Fire Code.
Sotto’s measure, which was released to the media on Tuesday, emphasizes the sole responsibility of the BFP in administering and enforcing the Fire Code under the direct supervision of the BFP chief.
He clarified that trainings will be conducted by the BFP to support and assist fire volunteers, fire volunteer organizations and fire safety practitioners in the Philippines.
However, firefighting operations should still be under the direct operational control of the BFP’s fire ground commander.
“The BFP may enter into external party agreement for the conduct of trainings, education and evaluations for fire volunteers, practitioners, fire brigade and fire volunteer organizations, which shall be under the full control and supervision of the BFP,” the bill read.
The measure also seeks “to harmonize the assessment and collection of fire code fees to the assessment and collection made by the local government units for construction-related permits and business permits.”
Sotto said the bill also aims to expand the utilization of Fire Code collections.
He noted that RA 9514 “tends to constrict” the utilization of fees collection to BFP modernization only, which prevented the BFP from acquiring properties for the establishment of national, regional, provincial offices and city or municipal fire stations.
Sotto also pointed out that the present Fire Code does not allow the BFP from using collected fees to acquire rescue vehicles, tools, devices and equipment. He said these are necessary for the BFP to perform its mandate.
Sotto said the proposed measure also provides “stringent penalties for every acts that tend to compromise fire safety that endangers the lives and limbs as well as properties” of the Filipino citizens. /muf
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