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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Firemen don’t need firearms to prevent fire, CHR insists

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The Commission on Human Rights on Friday rejected a proposed law enabling  firemen to carry firearms even as the 18th Congress approved a bill to that effect in the hope of modernizing the Bureau of Fire Protection.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said “the commission believes firefighters deserve equal protection in the

performance of their mandate but, in extremely tense situations, such as fire in communities, bearing arms might cause more harm than good.”

“The mandate of the Bureau of Fire Protection is to prevent and suppress all destructive fires toward saving lives and properties. The inclusion of a provision in the BFP Modernization Bill authorizing more than 2,000 firefighters to carry guns is tangential to this role,” she said.

She took into account that in most scenarios, panic and commotion ensue because people are fighting to have their homes and properties prioritized by firefighters.

“Arming firemen will not contain fires nor can it enhance the efficiency of the firefighters’ performance of their duties and functions. However, such challenges can be addressed by using the budget for the purchase  of guns to buy more firetrucks, hire more firemen, and build more fire stations to respond adequately to residential and non-residential fires,” she said.

“If there are sufficient firetrucks and firefighters, civilians during fire will not fight over to grab the water hoses to contain fire in their houses and properties,” she added.

She cited the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990, saying the BFP is required to establish one fire station with adequate fighting facilities and equipment in every province, city and municipality.

“Modernizing the BFP should ultimately head toward improving their presence, capacity and delivery of their duty. Providing security in the community is the mandate of law enforcement officers, which the BFP may request from the Philippine National Police based on the Fire Code of the Philippines,” she noted.

“At the same time, government should also equally address other challenges in addressing fire incidents, such as road congestion that cause delay in the arrival of firefighters; faithful enforcement of the Fire Code to ensure adherence to standard fire prevention and safety measures; and other operational gaps,” she stressed.

According to De Guia, it is the policy of the State to ensure public safety and allow citizens to reach their fullest potentials in life by mitigating barriers, such as destructive fires.

“To this end, we urge the government to look deeper into the challenges of upholding this duty to find better match solutions to problems,” she appealed. 

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