April 24, 2024

Bicol Express News

Your Voice ● Your News ● One Nation

OCD pushes for enhanced fire response capabilities and strict preventive measures

Usec. Ariel Nepomuceno, Office of the Civil Defense. Photo from OCD

In time for Fire Prevention Month this March and amid the forest fires in Benguet, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) on Thursday said that it will continue to implement and support interventions for the strengthening of the country’s capabilities in responding to different fire incidents.

“The OCD is currently monitoring the wildfires in Benguet. As of yesterday, most of the forest fires in Benguet are either fire out or under control, however, firefighting operations are still ongoing in three (3) areas in the province. Some challenges were encountered in the operations. We are looking for interventions that will support the ongoing response activities and of course for those measures that will offer long-term solutions to address the challenges and pressing concerns.” said Civil Defense Administrator, Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno.

On February 26, OCD officials, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officers met with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to tackle the support of the US Government for firefighting operations.

Usec. Ariel Nepomuceno, Office of the Civil Defense. Photo from OCD

A team of experts from USAID on February 27 went to Baguio City to provide technical support to the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) – CAR on combating forest fires. Aerial inspection was also conducted by the USAID and US Forest Service Fire Expert on the next day.

“We thank the US Government, the USAID, and Forest Service Fire Expert for providing technical assistance to relevant agencies and uniformed services on fire suppression. It is vital, especially for the responders to learn more strategies on how to combat forest fires. We are pushing for the advancement of our country’s capabilities in handling this type of emergency. OCD is committed to facilitating and providing necessary support to realize the improvements that we need for the betterment of the overall fire preparedness,” Usec. Nepomuceno added.

Among major challenges in response operations are the locations of forest fires which the fire trucks cannot access and the lack of equipment for responders.

As of yesterday, out of 13 areas affected by forest fires in Benguet, five (5) are now declared fire out, five (5) are under control status and three (3) areas are still under firefighting operations.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is still conducting heli bucket operations in Benguet to suppress the wildfires.

Forest fires were also reported in Mountain provinces, Baguio, and Iloilo this February 2024. All these are already declared fireouts.

As of writing, the cost of damages due to forest fires is still for validation by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Local Government Units (LGUs). No casualties have been reported due to the incidents.

“While the causes of these wildfires are still under investigation, we still want to call on everyone to observe precautionary measures and avoid activities that may trigger such incidents. Preventive measures against structural fires must also be observed by everyone. Fires threaten lives and properties and have harmful effects on the environment. Therefore, we should take preventive measures seriously and actively engage in programs or activities that seek to strengthen our preparedness.” Usec. Nepomuceno said.