House panels seek plenary approval of a bill seeking to strengthen and modernize BFP

Published August 23, 2020, 9:19 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The House Committee on Public Order and Safety, and the House Committee on Appropriations have passed and endorsed for plenary deliberations and approval of a bill seeking to strengthen and modernize the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
Under Committee Report No. 421, the panels, chaired by Masbate 1st District Rep. Narciso Bravo Jr, and ACT-CIS partylist Rep. Eric Yap recommended the approval of House Bill No.  7406 or the proposed “BFP Modernization Act” which is one of the priority measures mentioned by President Duterte in his State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) last July 27.
“The objective of the bill is to ensure public safety through the prevention and suppression of all kinds of destructive fires with the active support of the community,” Bravo said. 
Tingog Sinirangan partylist Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, and House Majoirity Leader and Leyte 1st Disrict Rep. Martin Romualdez, proponents of the bill, pushed for the final approval of HB 7406, lamenting that the BFP modernization has not been prioritized despite the increasing incidents of fire in the country. 
“While fire incidents are unexpected, they can be prevented or, at the very least, we can mitigate their destruction through proper safety measures and availability of protection services,” they said.
“With the passage of this bill, it is hoped that the BFP will be able to suppress all kinds of destructive fires and prevents deaths and injuries,” they added.
Under HB 7406, the BFP shall perform the following additional functions: 
-prevent and suppress all destructive fires in all building, houses and other structures, and economic zones including agro-industrial economic zones, free ports and special economic zones, information technology (IT) parks or centers, manufacturing economic zones, medical tourism parks or centers, tourism economic zones, and other similar entities; 
-establish and maintain regional arson laboratories and research and testing facilities with complete equipment; 
-respond to disasters, whether natural or human-induced and other emergencies, including rescue, emergency medical services, hazardous materials (HAZMAT), chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) materials, and other emergencies; 
-conduct in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) monthly fire prevention campaigns and information drive in all local government units (LGUs), particularly in informal settler areas and economically depressed areas; and 
-issue a fire safety evaluation clearance as a prerequisite for the issuance of a building permit after evaluation and ensuring that the required plans and specifications of the building and other pertinent documents submitted by building owners are compliant with the Fire Code and other applicable codes and standards. 
HB No.  7406, a consolidation of 10 measures, provides that the components of the Fire Protection Modernization Program shall be as follows: Fire Protection Service, force destruction and organizational development, capability material and technology development, specialised services development, and human resource development. 
The bill authorizes the DILG Secretary, upon approval of the President and under the provisions of existing laws and regulations, including those of the Commission on Audit and Section 3 of the Executive Order No. 91 series of 2019, and under such terms and conditions favourable to the government, to enter into multi-year contracts or other contractual agreements with local or foreign supplier or contractors in the implementation of the proposed Act. 
Under the measure, the BFP, through the DLG Secretary, is mandated to submit to the Office of the President and to Congress, an annual report containing the process and status of the implementation of the Fire Protection Protection Modernisation Program.
The DILG is mandated to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act, in coordination with the BFP, the Department of Finance (DOF), and the DBM.