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Valenzuela city slum residents undergo fire drill

/ 06:35 PM March 25, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Residents of a slum area in Barangay (village) Paso de Blas in Valenzuela City held a fire drill Sunday that taught them what to do in case of fire.

Superintendent Mel Jose Lagan, the Valenzuela City Fire Marshal, said it was the first time that a fire drill was done in an informal settlers’ community.

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The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said fire drills were usually conducted in establishments in buildings and schools. But the fire bureau noted that a large percentage of fire incidents occurred in residential areas.

Statistics from BFP-National Capital Region showed that in the first two months of the year, 213 residential fires occurred in Metro Manila.

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“We want to educate residents in poor communities on what to do in case of fire and how to prevent fire incidents (since) adjoining houses are usually made of materials that easily catch fire such as plywood, old wood and cardboard,” Lagan said.

For the drill, Lagan designated from among the community leaders and concerned groups who will serve as the incident commander, the Bantay Sunog (Fire Watch) responders, the evacuation route guides, the evacuation area commander and posts in charge, the alarm and communication in charge, and the first aid givers and rescuers.

“We do not want a repeat of the Malanday fire incident. This is why we are preparing the Bantay Sunog volunteers and the whole community so that they will be better prepared and equipped in case a similar fire incident occurs in the future,” Lagan said.

In 2009, around 200 families were left homeless when a fire blazed rows of houses in Malanday in Valenzuela City as firefighters had a hard time entering the narrow streets in the area.

The Valenzuela fire marshal also coordinated with Bantay Sunog volunteers in gathering data on the barangay population and profile such as the number of houses and the available exit routes in the area.

Bantay Sunog volunteer groups are stationed throughout Valenzuela City.

They have 1,288 members and 87 area leaders in 21 barangays in the city.

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They have been trained by the local BFP personnel on firefighting using fire extinguishers.

Lagan said among those who led and helped during the fire drill were BFP personnel, Bantay Sunog volunteers, community leaders, barangay officials and Red Cross volunteers.

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TAGS: Bureau of Fire Protection, Fire, fire drill, Housing, Mel Jose Lagan, Philippines - Metro, squatters, squatting, urban poor, Valenzuela fire marshal
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