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BFP Strategizes Collaboration with Elite Teams to Combat Forest Fires

BAGUIO CITY — The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) is on the verge of deploying a specialized team of firefighters across the country’s expansive forests to combat wildfires, as part of its ongoing modernization efforts.

During the launch of the National Fire Olympics at Burnham Park, BFP national director Louie Puracan revealed this exciting development on Tuesday.

The 8th Skills Games saw participation from over a thousand delegates hailing from fire stations nationwide. Among them were highland firefighters who have been tirelessly combatting pocket fires plaguing Cordillera forests since the beginning of the year.

Puracan, speaking to reporters, disclosed that President Marcos has issued directives to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) regarding forest fire management. The focus extends beyond the Cordillera region to encompass the Sierra Madre mountain range, stretching into Aurora province, and the Cotabato forests leading to Mt. Apo in Mindanao.

Under the BFP’s ambitious P10 billion modernization program, significant upgrades are planned. This includes the installation or enhancement of fire stations, particularly targeting the 120 local governments lacking such infrastructure. Additionally, investments are earmarked for the procurement of ambulances and other crucial first response services for every town and city, ensuring a more robust emergency response system nationwide.

However, specialists are also strategizing the deployment of specialized firefighting teams trained to tackle wildfires in dense watersheds and forests. This plan follows a consultation and training session held in February with wildfire experts dispatched by the United States Agency for International Development, according to Puracan.

Firefighters in the Philippines are constantly training to tackle structural fires, a vastly different challenge from combating forest fires, according to a recent statement. In the Cordillera region, a total of 107 fires ravaged extensive areas of forest in Benguet, Mountain Province, and parts of Ifugao between January and March. Fire Senior Superintendent Robert Pacis, the director of the Cordillera Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), highlighted the unique difficulties faced by firefighters in these situations.

Due to the remote locations of the fires deep within the forestlands, Cordillera firefighters had to abandon their firetrucks and trek long distances to create fire lanes. These fire lanes are crucial for preventing the spread of fires to populated areas. Senior Superintendent Pacis emphasized the physical demands and challenges posed by this approach.

A report from the Cordillera Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on February 22nd highlighted the inadequacy of highland fire stations in handling wildfires. The report emphasized the urgent need for specialized equipment to ensure the safety of firefighters and prevent them from becoming trapped during operations.

The scale of the blazes in Benguet was so immense that it necessitated the assistance of the Philippine Air Force. They conducted “helibucket” operations, which involve using helicopters equipped with specialized containers to drop water and douse the fires. This collaboration underscored the need for coordinated efforts and specialized resources to effectively combat wildfires in challenging terrains.

Puracan mentioned that the BFP is currently in negotiations to acquire a “fire chopper” to enhance their capabilities in wildfire suppression.



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