BFP implements controlled burns to curb grass fires

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD CITY – In response to a spate of grass fires exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Bacolod is set to initiate controlled burning of grasslands.

From January to March 2024, the BFP-Bacolod recorded a total of 209 grass fire incidents; 54 in January, 78 in February, and 77 in March.

Chief Inspector Stephen Jardeleza, the city fire marshal, reported that the area sees an average of five grass fire incidents daily, taxing resources such as gasoline, water, and the energy of the firefighting teams.

“Responding to grass fire incidents is difficult,” Jardeleza said, underscoring the complexities involved in tackling such fires without endangering nearby residential areas.

The intense ground heat during these incidents prevents immediate intervention by firefighters due to the risk of water hoses being damaged. Jardeleza emphasized that ensuring the fire is under control in one area is a prerequisite before attempting to extinguish it fully.

To proactively manage this issue, Jardeleza informed that coordination with local barangays and property owners is underway to conduct controlled burning safely and effectively. This preemptive measure aims to mitigate the risk of grass fires, which are often sparked by human activities such as the careless disposal of cigarettes and other flammable materials.

To heighten public awareness about fire prevention, the BFP has initiated an educational campaign titled “Reels-On-The-Bus” Fire Safety Advocacy Campaign, in collaboration with the Negros East Transport Service Cooperative (NETSCO) and the local government. The campaign features a 30-second fire safety video played across modernized jeepneys serving the Mansilingan-Downtown Area route, reaching an estimated 350-400 passengers daily in each vehicle.

“This leverages the ubiquity of public transportation to deliver vital fire safety messages to our community,” Jardeleza said.

In preparation for the possible effects of El Niño and the impending La Niña, Jardeleza also engaged with city officials to enhance the firefighting capabilities of the department, focusing on securing the necessary supplies and equipment for firefighting and rescue operations.