BFP cites lessons learned from Tacloban mall fire

The fire incident that destroyed Robinsons mall here in October last year is a reminder to the public about the importance of fire safety, an official of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said days before the Fire Prevention Month of March.

In every disaster, we should always engrave in our minds the lessons we learned so we will be more careful and mindful in the future. Fire safety and prevention should be learned by heart and mind, so it will be properly observed and practiced, said Sr. Supt. Renato Marcial, BFP Eastern Visayas regional director, in an interview Friday.

The blaze prompted the management to shut down the operation of the region's biggest shopping destination, displacing over 1,000 workers. The mall is still closed until now.

Because of, let's say, negligence, we could lose our properties that would eventually affect the economy and community. How much more if it claimed lives, Marcial said.

He emphasized that BFP has been repeatedly informing and educating the public of fire prevention related activities, however, these are not properly observed.

We are guilty of so many things. Do you even know our hotline number? Leaving cooking unattended, overcharging phones and leaving it plugged in overnight and appliances plugged in even not in use, and others. We should always exercise caution, vigilance, and common sense to minimize or eliminate fire hazards, he said.

Since the amount of Robinsons' fire damage is estimated at PHP803 million, the BFP national headquarters took over the investigation.

We believe the investigation is done and we are only waiting for the official results. We follow up from time to time since we also have the responsibility to inform the community of the results, Marcial said.

During and after the fire, BFP has been closely coordinating with the mall management.

Marcial said tenants and owners of similar establishments should learn from the incident and identify which areas of fire safety practice they should improve on, including proper education and necessary interventions.

There must be a trained quick response team or brigade, they should practice maintenance inspection making sure tenants strictly follow rules and regulations and observe preparedness through regular checking of sprinklers and alarm system, including the defense and contingency plan, he said.

Meanwhile, the BFP field office here has lined up several activities for the observance of the 54th Fire Prevention Month starting March 1. This year's theme is Matuto ka. Sunog Iwasan Na.

The month long activities are centered on fire safety awareness campaign through the distribution of leaflets, posters, and other information materials, lectures on fire prevention and caravans.

SOURCE: PHILIPPINES NEWS AGENCY

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