Almost half of blazes due to pole fires – BFP

Pole fire at Remonville Subd. In Jaro, Iloilo City on Jan. 2, 2020.

By: Jennifer P. Rendon

In 2019, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)-Iloilo recorded a spike in fire incidents in Iloilo City – from 408 in 2018, to 461 cases.

And almost half of the incidents occurred in utility pole fires, said Fire Chief Inspector Christopher Regencia, BFP-Iloilo City fire marshal.

Of the 461 incidents, pole fires accounted for 218 cases or 47.2885 percent.

Most of these incidents happened in March to September, with incidents peaking in June and July with 30 and 31 incidents, respectively.

“Our target is to really lessen the fire incidents. We were able to achieve that in firecracker-related fires because we haven’t recorded anything for the past two years,” Regencia said.

While pole fires decreased in 2019 (there were 233 cases in 2018), Regencia said its occurrence is beyond their control.

“We can’t do anything about it. It’s with the telcos or with the electric company. We could only respond when there’s a call-up. It doesn’t matter who owns the poles,” he said.

But Regencia admitted that most, if not all, of utility pole fire incidents involved electric posts.

“It’s because of the load. Mahina naman ang load ng telcos compared to that of electric posts,” he said.

While he is no technical expert on the matter, Regencia said the series of utility pole fire incidents could be due to a maintenance concern.

“I think there is a need to saturate illegal connections,” he said.

In fact, Regencia said that a good number of structural fires are because of overloading due to illegal connections.

He said the issue is highly technical but they noticed that pole fires usually happened to areas where there are informal settlers.

“This could be due to ‘jumpers.’ Even the Jan. 1 fire in Jaro, several residents claimed they don’t have a kuntador (electric meter),” he said.

Regencia said they hoped this practice will stop for safety’s sake.

On top of that, customers are burdened by illegal connections as they end up paying for electricity that they did not consume.

Pilfered electricity is considered systems loss, which is charged to legal consumers.



Meanwhile, Regencia revealed that only 121 incidents or 26.25 percent pertain to structural fire.

Most of these structural fires occurred March, which is being observed as the National Fire Prevention Month in the Philippines.

Further, there were 74 incidents grass fire (16 percent); 37 incidents (8 percent) of rubbish fire; 9 cases of vehicular fire; and two cases that were classified as miscellaneous.

The estimated damage to property was pegged at P13,571,500.

Further, three civilians died during these incidents that also injured two firemen and 69 civilians.