IN a move to boost the modernization program of the Department of Interior and Local Government’s Bureau of Fire Protection, Republic Act (RA) No. 9514, the Fire Code of the Philippines of 2008, was signed into law on January 15, 2009, repealing the 31-year-old Fire Code.
RA 9514, enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives on October 6, 2008, and October 8, 2008, respectively, created a Fire Protection Modernization Trust Fund (FPMTF). Under the law, 80 percent of the Fire Code fees shall be remitted to the National Treasury for the FPMTF, while 20 percent shall be set aside by the city or municipal government concerned for the use and maintenance of the local fire station.
Private fire volunteers and fire practitioners are required to undergo a mandatory training and competency evaluation to be conducted by the BFP. These volunteers will be under the direct operational control of the BFP fire ground commander during firefighting operations. This initiative will ensure that fire volunteers and fire practitioners will be properly prepared and equipped with the needed skills to respond to critical situations.
The new law accords the BFP chief authority to issue closure orders for buildings or structures declared as fire hazards, and “deliberately order the removal of hazardous materials or halt hazardous operations of business establishments whose physical layout is prone to industrial-related fire incidents, or order the work stoppage of structures still being constructed for the absence or violation of any approved construction plan.” It imposes accountability on public officials and employees, as well as criminal penalties for negligence, malfeasance, or misfeasance in performing their sworn duties to the country.
The Fire Code of the Philippines of 2008 will go a long way in carrying out the much-needed rehabilitation and modernization of our country’s firefighting equipment and facilities and enable our firefighters to perform their duties more efficiently and effectively.
Opinion and Editorial