By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
With the increasing construction of high-rise buildings in the city, Mayor Jerry Treñas has emphasized the need for additional aerial ladders for the Iloilo City Fire Station of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to enhance their response to fire incidents in these structures.
“Isa na ka area nga kinahanglan ta gid alalayan an BFP. Ang BFP waay sang mataas nga ladder nga mausar ta para sa mga high-rise building,” the city mayor said in a press conference on Monday.
Treñas’ statement comes after a recent fire incident on the 11th floor of a building at the Iloilo Business Park of Megaworld in Mandurriao on Saturday evening.
Firefighters had to navigate staircases with extended hoses and they were only able to identify the source of the fire with the help of a drone. It took them almost three hours before they toppled the fire.
Though Treñas said that the city government is prepared to respond to fire incidents, he also acknowledged that the BFP “could have done better” if it had a ladder that could reach beyond mid-rise and certain high-rise buildings.
“We try to do what’s possible under the circumstances. Napatay man kay kung indi preparado ang city government, siguro naubos to sunog […] But we could have done better kung may ladder kita nga good for 20 storeys,” he said.
Data from the BFP showed that the city recorded 195 fire incidents as of October of this year, of which 72 were incidents involving structures.
In the same period last year, there were 194 fire incidents in the city which involved 71 structural fires.
Treñas said that the city government has enough firefighting equipment.
“Ang iban siguro bastante na kita. Wala kita mawad-an tubig. Nakit-an man dayun kung diin ang kalayo because of the drones. Ang problema gid lang to ang may ladderized nga fire-truck kita,” he said.
The city mayor shared that in 2019, he had already written to the BFP, emphasizing the need for more aerial ladders.
However, the BFP responded that the stringent bidding process for procuring additional fire trucks takes two to three years to complete, and fire trucks with aerial ladders are mostly deployed in the National Capital Region.
Treñas also mentioned that BFP-6 Regional Director Jerry Candido is considering coordinating with Korean firms to acquire second-hand fire trucks equipped with aerial ladders capable of reaching 20 floors.
He also noted his close coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. to address the city’s needs in responding to fire incidents.
A 2019 report from the BFP stated that there are 2,352 units of fire trucks nationwide. Of these, 2,104 are in service, 45 are under repair, and 203 are unusable.
While most fire trucks are still operational, some units are around 27 to 30 years old, primarily stationed in Visayas and Mindanao.