For the price of a candle
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - March 4, 2015 - 12:00am

Why is it that there are more fires during “Fire Prevention Month”?

No one seems to know the answer to that, but it does prove that the authorities such as the Bureau of Fire Protection are doing a lousy job of promoting and educating people about fire prevention. The very practice of driving fire trucks all around Metro Manila with sirens screaming to observe Fire Prevention Month is more likely to cause panic and traffic than to teach people about fire prevention.

I think it would be a lot better if Bureau of Fire personnel conducted seminars in every barangay and inspected places that are potential blazing infernos or death traps. They of course can’t do that because Congress and the PNP give more priority to using policemen as personal bodyguards of VIPs than hiring the necessary number of firemen.

Firemen are often quoted as saying that the cause of a fire is due to “electrical shorting” or electrical in nature, but they don’t give specifics and make use of the opportunity to educate people. They respond to reporters but behave like they just want to get back to their station. Fires are perfect examples for teaching people about overloads, sub-standard electrical wires, under or over rating fuses and circuit breakers, and most especially about replacing, rewiring or upgrading electrical systems that are over 10 years.

Our house, which is 14 years old has been manifesting clear signs of deteriorating outlets that don’t grip plugs as good as they used to, circuit breakers that cut off for no apparent reason, a water heater that served its purpose. So I’ve scheduled for a utility repair guy to come and replace and upgrade anything that does not pass ocular or technical tests. Age, use or designed obsolescence are realities that if ignored can cause damage to appliances, property or cause injury or fires. The strange thing is that I’ve never heard members of the BFP point these out or talk about it and they should!

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When the scourge of dengue caused so many deaths and millions of pesos in medical response and prevention, The Department of Science and Technology as well as the Department of Health joined forces to develop information programs as well as traps to effectively reduce the incidence of dengue. If the traps were good, the only reason they “failed” or were not as effective as hoped was because they did not go down to the Barangay level where officials should have conducted seminars and house-to-house campaign so people could manufacture the traps, deploy them and monitor them regularly.   

After coming up with their dengue traps, here is a new challenge for the Department of Science and Technology, the DILG, TESDA and Illac Diaz, the man behind the “One Liter of Light” concept. Every week we’ve been hearing news reports of fires caused by candles left unattended in shanty homes that can’t afford to pay electricity bills. The most recent fire killed four toddlers who are usually the ones who burn to death because they can’t protect themselves. I know Illac Diaz has developed a chlorine-based solution using discarded soft drink PE bottles that function as low light sources. Diaz and Director Joel Villanueva of TESDA have also joined force to build hundreds of low cost solar lamps primarily for streetlights.

It would certainly be a lot cheaper to provide poor families with such alternative light sources than to continue paying the price in human lives and billions of pesos in damage, injury and emergency response. Every family can be sold the solar lamps that have a life span of about 3 years and they can pay for the lamps everyday or weekly for the price of a candle which barangay elders and officials can collect. The DOST and TESDA should also look into an alternative to LPG cooking that is both safe and not as flammable as traditional ways. Solve these two challenges and you would have made millions of lives much better and safer. 

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Instead of spending millions of dollars and euros building and maintaining testing grounds for their cars, we should promote Metro Manila to all car manufacturers as a testing ground especially for suspension and overheating. Coming from Nueva Ecija, the SCTEX and NLEX were well paved enough to write a column and write sms messages on my iPhone. But even without looking I immediately knew we were already in Metro Manila because the ride was so rough and bumpy I kept hitting the wrong characters and I soon got dizzy I needed to take a look outside.

At the start of the trip, I actually thought my Revo badly needed new shocks but once on the toll roads I realized that the problem was that EDSA in particular has become a quilted patchwork of cemented remedies. If you want a concrete example of the P-Noy Misadministration’s performance, take a round trip of EDSA, place a pendulum on your rear view mirror holder and see how badly it swings!

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Last Saturday I discovered what was actually causing the heavy and slow flow of traffic in front of Resorts World going to NAIA I and II. Most people think it’s that rotunda or the traffic light on Aurora Blvd., Pasay. No its not. What’s causing traffic is that cars from the NAIA 3 side are allowed to U-turn on the rotunda but most of them are going to 10th street or Newport City, which crosses paths with those on the Resorts World side. The best solution is to simply block the rotunda and make the cars from Aurora and NAIA 3 side to U-turn at Resorts World. That way you have one continuous flow and those going to 10th street or Newport simply have to stay on the right lane.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

 

 

AURORA BLVD BUREAU OF FIRE BUREAU OF FIRE PROTECTION DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FIRE FIRE PREVENTION MONTH METRO MANILA RESORTS WORLD
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