Fire knows no mercy

IT is far better to get robbed several times than to fall victim to fire even once, goes the old saying. And for the families who lost lives and properties in the reported 259 cases of fire in the National Capital Region alone, the wretched char that this reality has left in their scarred beings will leave them damaged for a long time. The scent of burning flesh and the memory of homes—built with love through blood, sweat and tears—being reduced to ashes will not be easily forgotten. The suffocating smoke and the last embers might have been put out for good, but they will only be remembered for evil.

Indeed, fire knows no mercy.

Considering that the number of the reported fires covered only January 1 to February 15 of this year, the number is certainly high.  While the updated data are not readily available, the sound of blaring sirens that we have been hearing more frequently lately should validate this.

According to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), there is an increase in the number of fires in Metro Manila in 2016, with 5,121 cases, compared to 2015, with 4,374 cases. Quezon City ranks first as the city with the highest number of fires, with 1,023; Manila is listed second, with 470 fire cases.

Better be safe than sorry

AS the temperature rises with the onset of summer in March, fire incident risks increase, as well. Hence, the government’s declaration of March as Fire Prevention Month, when the biggest number of fire cases are also recorded nationwide.

At this particular season, more than ever, it is prudent to exercise the greatest caution to prevent fire cases from happening. And as always, fire prevention must begin at home—and for a good reason.

According to the BFP still, most fires happen at residential areas.  The common causes are accidents that are mostly electrical in nature, lighted cigarette butts, or open flames due to unattended cooking, candles, or torches.

Fire-safety tips

There are plenty of fire-prevention and safety tips online. Here is a quick list of 10 preventive measures from the Fire and Safety Enforcement branch of the BFP-National Capital Region:

  1. Place the phone numbers of the nearest fire station right beside your telephone. (For Metro Manila residents, you may dial (02) 426-0219, (02) 426-3812, (02) 426-0246.)
  2. Eliminate combustible materials through good housekeeping. Dispose of waste, such as papers, rubbish and other materials that can easily catch fire.
  3. Keep matches out of children’s reach.
  4. Oil lamps, gas lamps and candles should be placed away from curtains. Put out the flame before going to bed.
  5. Do not keep flammable materials like gasoline, alcohol and paint inside the house.
  6. Regularly check your electrical installations, and have all frayed wiring and electrical fixtures changed or repaired by a licensed electrician.
  7. Do not overload electrical circuits by plugging additional lights and electrical appliances.
  8. Blown fuses should not be replaced with wires or any metal.
  9. Never leave a lit cigarette or cigar on pipe unattended. It may fall on flammable materials that could start a fire. Easily combustible household items are clothes, curtains, furniture and appliances, as well as items that are made by paper, wood, plastic and rubber.
  10. Always have a handy first-
    aid kit.

In 2016 fire incidents in the NCR alone resulted in P601-million damages in property. But beyond the peso figures are lost lives, hopes and dreams that are priceless.

Fire knows no mercy; of this, we can be sure. It’s about time we made a conscious effort to always make safety a daily priority.


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