Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Monday called for a change in leadership in the city’s Bureau of Fire Protection, lamenting lapses in operational readiness and proper fire safety precautions.
“The capability and effectiveness of the BFP-QC Fire Department in responding to these fires have lessened significantly. The city government recognizes that each fire has its own distinct volatile circumstances,” she said.
“Nonetheless, the severity of this year’s incidents necessitates a call for a change in the leadership of the agency. A change is needed for the welfare of our citizens. We look forward to a better performance from the BFP,” she added.
Belmonte criticized Sr. Supt. Aristotle Bañaga of the BFP-QC as well as Chief Insp. Dominic Salvacion, QC Fire Prevention Branch chief, as she callrd on the BFP central office to conduct a thorough investigation into the shortcomings of the two fire officials and to undertake reforms within the BFP-QCFD.
She said Bañaga and Salvacion must be investigated to determine their culpability in the recent spate of fire occurrences in Quezon City, particularly in the Aug. 31 blaze that killed 15 people, including a three-year-old girl, inside Pleasant View Subdivision in Tandang Sora.
Bañaga and Salvacion earned the wrath of Belmonte when the results of a probe conducted by the city government and the councilors revealed their lax inspection, backlog in the examination of businesses, and other lapses in their performance.
“The BFP should look into how the BFP-QCFD fulfilled its mandate in the light of tragic loss of lives and properties due to recent fires in the city. Was the BFP-QCFD leadership remiss in their duties? They should hold their personnel accountable if proven guilty of inefficiency,” Belmonte said.
An evaluation conducted by the city government of each fire incident that occurred in 2023 showed there were more damage, injury and death incidents due to fire compared to 2022, Belmonte said.
Belmonte said the concerned fire officials have failed her expectation to cooperate and reciprocate the city’s effort of
transparency, and that they “resisted our calls to be apprised of the progress of their own probe, or to our requests for coordination.”
“For this reason and to protect the people of Quezon City, I am calling upon the national leadership of the Bureau of Fire Protection to assign to us a new fire marshall for the QCFD and a new inspection head,” she said.