Press Release
February 26, 2019

SP Sotto: BFP should be the sole enforcer of RP's fire laws

As the country observes Fire Prevention Month next month, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III wants the Bureau of Fire Protection as the sole enforcer of "Fire Code of the Philippines" or Republic Act 9514.

March, which happens to be one of the hottest months in the country, has been declared Fire Prevention Month "to disseminate knowledge in the field of burn prevention and to enhance education in all phases of burn care".

In 2017, the Bureau of Fire Protection noted that fire incidents in the country increased, which reached a record high of 14,197 fire incidents in the Philippines. About 12.3 percent of these fire incidents took place in the month of March.

Sotto noted that RA 9514 mandated the BFP to enforce the law to "all persons, buildings, facilities or structures erected before or after its effectivity."

"However, despite the clear language of the Code, several government agencies and entities, such as the Philippine Economic Zone Authority had for a long time arrogated upon them the enforcement of the Fire Code of the Philippines to PEZA-registered economic zones," the Senate chief said.

He cited the June 2, 2017 incident when a former employee of the Department of Finance addicted to gambling attacked and burned a portion of the Resorts World Manila which resulted in the death of at least 37 persons.

An investigation of the incident revealed the overlapping authority of the BFP and PEZA in the enforcement of RA 9514.

Prior to the said incident, similar fire incidents had previously occurred, where the issue was brought to fore, Sotto said.

In his Senate Bill 2196, or "An Act Amending Certain Provisions of Republic Act 9514 and for Other Purposes," Sotto seeks to clarify the respective authorities and jurisdictions of the BFP, PEZA and other similar entities with respect to the administration and enforcement of the Fire Code of the Philippines in economic zones.

Sotto's proposal stresses the "sole" responsibility of BFP to administer and enforce the Fire Code of the Philippines under the direct supervision of the BFP chief.

Trainings will be conducted by the BFP for support and assist fire volunteers, practitioners and fire volunteer organizations and fire safety practitioners in the country.

"The BFP may enter into external party agreement for the conduct of trainings, education and evaluations for fire volunteers, practitioners, fire brigade and fire volunteer organizations, which shall be under the full control and supervision of the BFP," the proposal stated.

However, firefighting operations should be under the direct operational control and the fire ground commander of the BFP, it added.

The Senate President also cited several reasons why there is a need to amend and update the antiquated Fire Code of the Philippines.

Some provisions in the present Code, Sotto said, were found to be repugnant with the present program of the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, specifically on the streamlining of the processing of business and other local permits.

The bill seeks "to harmonize the assessment and collection of fire code fees to the assessment and collection made by the local government units for construction-related permits and business permits."

It also seeks to expand the utilization of fire code collections, noting that RA 9514 "tends to constrict" the utilization of fees collection to BFP modernization only.

This prevented the BFP to acquire properties for the establishment of national, regional, provincial offices and city or municipal fire stations.

The present code also does not expressly allow the utilization of the fees collection for the acquisition of rescue vehicles, tools, devices and equipment, which are necessary in order for the BFP to successfully perform its mandate of saving lives and properties.

Furthermore, the proposed measure provide "stringent penalties for every acts that tend to compromise fire safety that endangers the lives and limbs as well as properties of the citizens of the Philippines," Sotto added.

News Latest News Feed