Pangasinan town’s entire fire department axed
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan, Philippines — The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Ilocos Region (Region 1) has relieved the station head and entire force of Pozorrubio town, Pangasinan’s fire department four days after a midnight fire gutted three houses and killed a family of five.
Senior Fire Officer 3 Amante Clemente Battalao took over the station from SFO4 Randy Fabro, the fire marshal, who was relieved of his duty on April 4.
Battalao, in a phone interview on Saturday, said he received the order for him to assume the position three days ago from the BFP regional headquarters.
He also said Fabro returned to the BFP regional headquarters while the investigation was ongoing.
He added that seven other firemen from different towns were relieved along with Fabro.
On April 3, Mark and wife Dexie Ann, both 34, and their children Keziah, 1; Mackarie, 2; and Mackenzie, 6, were unable to get out of their burning house and perished in the fire.
The fire allegedly started from an overcharged e-bike.
Pangasinan Gov. Ramon Guico III said the provincial government would investigate the alleged “gross negligence” of the local BFP during the incident.
Guico cited reports that the firemen were having a drinking spree when the fire broke out.
He also said that the BFP responded late although the houses were located just a kilometer away from the fire station.
“Firetrucks from two neighbor towns were there first before them. Then the [Pozorrubio fire] truck allegedly had no water, and the firemen were not even wearing boots but slippers,” he said.
Guico said he has called up Pozorrubio town Mayor Kelvin Chan who informed him that the local government would also conduct its own investigation.
“Naghahanap ng hustisya ang mga kapamilya ng mga biktima ng sunog (The relatives of the fire victims are crying for justice),” he said.
Batallao, who was the deputy fire marshal of Urdaneta City prior to his assignment in Pozorrubio, appealed to the community for their cooperation to prevent fire incidents.
“We will exhaust all efforts in conducting fire safety awareness and intensify inspection of business establishments,” he said.