‘We need more personnel, equipment’
The Cebu City Fire Department lacks personnel and equipment, a request made repeatedly to the Cebu City Government.
Fire Marshall Aderson Comar said he hopes City Hall will grant his one-year-old request for assistance.
An aging fleet of ten firetrucks, most of them 30 years old, was further diminished when four units broke down after intensive firefighting operations for the Dec. 23 inferno in the Gaisano Capital South mall.
Since fire stations of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) are under a national agency, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Comar said he know they can’t force the city government to allocate funds.
Last December 2010, the fire department sent a request to the Office of Mayor for the repair of their aerial ladder, engine pump and Daewoo Kanglim firetruck.
In the second quarter this year, another request was made for additional personnel – electricians, mechanics, nurses, secretaries and telephone operators.
Last month, the fire department asked for a towing truck, milling machine, surface grinder, boring machine and brake drum puller among others.
As of today, none of the requests have been granted.
A P50 million outlay proposed by Mayor Michael Rama to equip and upgrade the fire department was shot down by the City Council, which scrapped the item from the 2012 budget.
“It’s okay. At least they know that we lack equipment,” said Comar.
“If they grant our requests, that’s much better. If they don’t, we can’t force them.”
Having ad adequate protective and firefighting equipment and staff would make it easier to do a good job, he said.
“But we can’t force them because we are under the national government. We are only asking for their assistance.”
For now, BFP personnel make do with what they have.
They still use a defective aerial ladder for lack of a backup. A mechanic was tapped to repair defective trucks.
During actual fires, they ask the Visayan Electric Co. (Veco) to cut off power in the area since the BFP does not have its own electrician.
Firemen double up as telephone operators and office secretaries.
Comar said his men need “tri-skills enhancement training” to be more effective.
Lack of equipment was plain to see in the Gaisano mall fire operation.
Firefighters went to the scene, some without protective boots and others using torn fire coats.
They entered smoke-filled rooms without enough breathing apparatus units for the team and broke down doors using axes and manual cutters, instead of hydraulic-powered tools that would have hastened the work.
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