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EDITORIAL - Gear, not guns, for firefighters

EDITORIAL - Gear, not guns, for firefighters

(The Freeman) - June 11, 2021 - 12:00am

If Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa could have his way, he wants personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection to be allowed to carry short firearms during fire emergencies and disasters as long as they have undergone training from the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police.

However, if the BFP-7 can have its way, they would rather have firefighting equipment instead of guns. Mainly because they lack equipment for their individual personnel as well as for their operations as an organization.

“Kulang g’yud. Challenge siya pero kitang mga Pilipino mangita man g’yud og paagi maong maka-respond gihapon,” BFP-7 Superintendent Fritzie Manatad said in a report in this newspaper.

He said some firemen have resorted to borrowing gear like helmets, gloves, boots, and breathing apparatus from other firemen just to make ends meet.

Lawmakers should heed the BFP; it should be gear instead of guns for our firefighters. We say this for three practical reasons.

First, there is no reason to arm people, except for those who really need them as part of their daily work.

Firefighters have no business carrying around guns in the normal course of their work. A fire scene can easily be secured by policemen, barangay tanods, or other force multipliers who can be fielded.

There is also no practical purpose for firefighters to be armed during emergencies and disasters. In fact, having guns in such a situation will only heighten tensions, especially if everyone is a victim and if emotions are running high.

Second, we should make sure our firefighters get what they need as a way to protect them from COVID-19. In this age of the pandemic borrowing and sharing of what is essentially personal gear is not advisable. Imagine what will happen if many of our firefighters suddenly come down with COVID-19 at the same time.

Third, our firefighters need gear more badly than guns because fires continue to be a common occurrence even beyond Fire Prevention Month and our hottest months. Even as we are into the rainy season fires continue to be a problem owing to our poor fire safety practices and general overcrowding.

We can be assured the money spent on firefighting gear --and not guns-- will be money well-spent.

BFP
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