Know How to Prevent Fire: A Davao City Fireman’s Appeal

Mar. 15, 2013

Recognizing fire hazard could save people a lot of trouble.  “Heat, fuel and oxygen are the three elements that give life to fire.  So putting things that could fuel fire next to heat could be dangerous,” Capesos said, adding that avoiding putting a lamp, for instance, next to curtains, is one.

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Davao City falls short in world standards in terms of fire protection — the city has only 13 fire trucks, not 64, as the standard required number in terms of the trucks’ ratio to population.

In the midst of inadequate fire facilities, the people “should be more aware on fire prevention,” claims Senior Fire Officer 3 Ariel Capesos of the Davao City Bureau of Fire Protection-XI Intelligence and Investigation Section.

Already, nine fire incidents that killed five people have been recorded in the first two weeks of this month — the fire prevention month.  Four of the fire incidents were caused by electrical problems, while most were said to be caused by “negligence” like an unattended candle and a child left alone playing with matchsticks.

Capesos said most of the common electrical problems are caused by short circuit, overheated appliances, overloading and arching, which happens when electricity fluctuates and the outlet loosens, causing ignition at the sudden rush of power supply.

Electric connections in wooden ceiling panels are especially most susceptible to catch fires, especially during summer season as the heat doubles up.  Capesos advised that electric wire connections must be checked by competent electricians at least once in every 10 years.

Another common cause of fire is shortage of electric load for multiple appliance connections, and substandard electrical equipment.

Capesos said some have the wrong practice of making do with available things, such as replacing broken fuse in circuit breakers with silvers in cigarette packs, as a temporary recourse.

Remove fire hazards

Recognizing fire hazard could save people a lot of trouble.  “Heat, fuel and oxygen are the three elements that give life to fire.  So putting things that could fuel fire next to heat could be dangerous,” Capesos said, adding that avoiding putting a lamp, for instance, next to curtains, is one.

“Even simple housekeeping is good fire prevention,” Capesos said, citing that cleaning up cooking oil spilled in the kitchen could keep fire accidents away.

In areas where houses are situated close to each other, especially, in urban poor communities, Capesos recommends the formation of fire brigades.  If one notices fire hazard practice in the neighborhood, one can report that to the fire department and they can conduct inspections, he added.

It is also best that a family creates its own disaster plan, and even conduct fire drills among themselves.  If purchasing a fire extinguisher is way too expensive, then at least, storing a pail of water in the house for fire emergency could make a lot of difference, Capesos said.

Know the number of your nearest fire station

Capesos said it is important that people know the telephone number of the fire stations near their vicinity, or if not, they can dial 911.

Capesos listed the 11 fire stations in the city: Bunawan Fire Station, 236-0414; Panacan, 284-3865; Lanang, 235-0166; Buhangin, 241-0220; Central Fire Station (Magsaysay Park), 222-2324; Bangoy (Ponciano), 221-0221; SIR, Bucana, 296-1779; GSIS, 297-2427; Mintal District, 293-0112; Toril, 291-0441 and Calinan, 295-0475.

Capesos explained that from the moment they receive a distress call, the Bureau of Fire always make it a point to be there in seven minutes or less.  “So it’s crucial, that within that amount of time, people at least would know how to find a way to quell a fire at its initial stage,” he added.

In getting out of fire, Capesos said, it is best not to run, as you are just adding up oxygen to the fire.  Best is to stop, drop and roll, because one could be in danger of inhaling the hot gases while standing.  When a part of the body has caught fire, it is best to roll over to put off the fire.

Penalty for violators

Capesos also warns penalty for establishments who violate fire safety rules like blocking fire exits, doors that are not open to the direction of travel, and ladder-type passageways not stair-type which makes it inaccessible.  Outright penalties run up to PHP 25,000.

Capesos reminds everyone to be extra careful as this month of March is the onset of hot season.  Make sure all electrical cords are unplugged when leaving the house, and cooking is not left unattended.

“Your firemen can only do so much.  Besides, what firemen can do amount to nothing, especially if the fire is already fully developed.  Even the water from our fire hoses in such cases would just evaporate due to the intense heat,” he said.  (Cheryll D. Fiel/

  • emir1979

    ….ang problema pa din ng ating mga kababayan diyan sa
    pinas ay ang kawalan ng lupa, desenteng pabahay, trabaho na lahat ay
    responsibilidad ng gubyerno….. useless ang tips na ito kasi parang ang mga
    mahihirap pa ang may kasalanan…. para bang lahat ng tao ay karaniwang
    empleyado na pwedeng sabihan ng: “yan kasi, hindi nag-iingat. kung
    nag-invest lang sana kayo sa mga fire extinguishers” eh, wala na ngang
    bahay at makakain yung iba kaya nagsisiksikan sa mga squatter…. wala na ba
    talagang boses ang mahihirap?????? -emir UAE

  • Hi Emir of UAE.

    Thanks for airing your view on the issue.
    Rest assured that Davao Today will get the other side of the story, the side of the fire victims and the poor, in the name of fair and relevant journalism.

    Thanks and please keep on visiting our website.

    Best regards,

    Davao Today Editorial Team

  • MarDumadag

    March is a Fire Safety and Prevention month, a time

    when people should take time out from whatever they

    do to think about, and be aware of the ways to help

    learn fire safety and prevention to minimize loss of life,

    injury, property destruction and environmental damage.

    Most people
    underestimate the risks for fire that

    knowledge on fire safety and prevention is not given

    any importance, and many either lack emergency

    response plans or fail to practice fire drills. This annual

    observance of fire safety awareness is an excellent

    opportunity to focus on fire hazards, and to encourage

    the promotion of fire safety and prevention.

    Fire is the most
    destructive, difficult to predict and

    costly elements known to mankind. It is also mankind’s

    best friend if under control, but the worst enemy when

    out of control.

    Fire risks in densely populated communities have

    increased tremendously over the years, and so with

    the costs of lives and properties. The existence of fire

    safety hazards is all over in urban areas where

    substandard buildings or structures are more prevalent

    than in the rural areas. Dilapidated buildings and other

    substandard dwellings like shanties in squatter areas

    are so close to each other that they do not have proper

    setbacks and firewall protection.

    Some commercial buildings and
    most multi-unit dwellings

    (apartments, hotels, motels, lodging houses, etc) have no

    fire alarm and sprinkler systems and adequate fire exits.

    Fire can
    erupt any time at any place in any building. It

    can be started from electrical shorts, HVAC (heating,

    venting, air conditioning) failures, cooking oil unattended,

    children playing with matches or lighters, combustibles

    near a fire on a stove or any heating elements, smoking

    in bed, lighted candles and kerosene or oil lamps tipped-

    over by gusty winds, rats, cats or other house pets, etc.

    It has
    been observed that in some commercial buildings

    where more than ten people go in and out, doors swing

    inside instead to outside in the direction of flow of traffic.

    In case of a fire or emergency, people panic and rush to

    the nearest exits, people get piled up and jammed at the

    exit doors causing injuries and deaths because of their

    inability to open the doors which swing inside against the

    flow of traffic. Every emergency exit doors must be provided

    with push-panic hardware and wired-illuminated exit signs

    (with back-up battery power).

    Lives may also be saved if all
    dwelling units are provided

    with wired smoke detectors with back-up battery power

    to warn occupants in the event of a fire. Having a working

    smoke alarm system dramatically increases the chance of

    surviving in a fire.

    Also, many times lives have been lost in a
    fire because of

    unapproved security bars or grilles installed on windows

    in residential buildings. Common sense will tell you that

    unapproved security bars or grilles installed on windows and

    doors are potential safety hazards in case of a fire. Dwellings

    with unapproved security bars or grilles installed on windows

    can become death traps. But with proper installation of release

    devices or mechanisms, deaths can be avoided.

    While security bars
    or grilles may help your family to be

    safe from intruders, they can also trap you in a deadly fire.

    Windows and doors with security bars or grilles must have

    quick release devices, or approved release mechanisms

    which are openable from the inside without the use of a

    key or special knowledge or effort. Security bars or grilles

    on windows may be designed to automatically pop open

    every time any of the smoke detectors in the building are


    It is very important to practice an escape plan

    with your family or all occupants in the building. Remember

    that in event of a fire, time is the biggest enemy, and every

    second counts! Escape first, then call for help. Develop a

    home fire escape plan and designate a meeting place

    outside. Make sure every occupant must know two ways

    to escape from every room (either through the door or

    window). Never stand up in a fire, always crawl low under

    the smoke and try to keep your mouth covered. Never

    return to a burning building for any reason, it may cost

    your life.

    While government action is essential in tackling the

    problem of fire safety and prevention, coordinated efforts

    of the public, particularly the occupants of the building

    are no less important.

    New subdivisions should be designed to have

    standard width of roadways or streets to provide access

    for fire trucks or equipment, ambulances and police

    vehicles in case of fire or emergency.

    There is a need for
    adequacy of enforcement action by

    the Fire Department apart from regular inspections and

    publicity through the media to step-up efforts on education

    by inclusion the subject of fire safety and prevention in the

    primary grades. A team of speakers from the Fire Prevention

    Bureau should go into schools and give lectures on fire safety

    and prevention and challenge school children to be safe.

    It is
    necessary that regular inspections must be conducted

    by the Fire Department to ensure fire-safety regulations are

    being followed.

    The Building Department, Fire Department and Health

    District should get together and create a code enforcement

    task force for the purpose of conducting regular joint

    inspections (with police support for protection) in all

    commercial, industrial and residential buildings (with four

    or more dwelling units to include apartments, boarding or

    lodging houses, hotels, motels, dormitories, etc.).

    The above
    suggestions are applicable to all other

    occupancies (commercial and industrial) with occupant

    load of 10 or more people, like movie houses, theaters,

    night clubs, restaurants, department and grocery stores,

    discotheques, meeting halls, gymnasiums, or any indoor

    assembly facilities where adequate numbers of approved

    exits are required in accordance with the building and fire


    Observance of Fire Safety and Prevention Month is a

    reaffirmation of the importance of fire safety and awareness.

    This is all about safety and prevention designed to educate

    the public, especially the children.

    The Fire Prevention Bureau
    should provide fire safety

    awareness education and training throughout the month of

    March. It should conduct activities in observance on Fire

    Safety and Prevention Month, such as Fire Expo Booth,

    display of fire fighting trucks, tools and equipment, fire

    fighting and vehicle extrication demonstrations, Fire Station

    Open House, fire safety trailer presentations, school visits

    and puppet shows that reinforce fire safety behaviors, etc.

    Fire safety and prevention awareness is something that

    needs to be shared, not only during the month of March

    but all year-round.

    Mar Dumadag
    Stockton, CA

    Hometown: Calape, Bohol

  • Hi Emir of UAE.

    Thanks for airing your view on the issue.

    Rest assured that Davao Today will get the other side of the story, the side of the fire victims and the poor, in the name of fair and relevant journalism.

    Thanks and please keep on visiting our website.

    Best regards,

    Davao Today Editorial Team

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