This year’s fire incidents have become extremely alarming. Based on the consolidated number of fire incidents nationwide, BFP has recorded 4,682 fire incidentsas of March30, 2015. Last year’s fire incidentsreached a total of 5,455 as of the same period. Despite the BFP’s relentless efforts to properly educate the public on how to prevent fires, the tremendous number of its incidence seem to multiply in every passing day, thereby unduly causing lamentable losses both in life and property.

Because of this alarming situation, the BFP warns the public that the agency after thorough investigation will be forced to file criminal case for negligence before the courts, against those who may be found liable for causing the fire through negligence.

“Any person, whose utter negligence and carelessness is found to be the proximate cause of the fire will be facing criminal negligence charges, defined and penalized under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended” Director Ariel Barayuga, Chief of the Bureau of Fire Protection said as he tried to appeal to the public to be cautious and become a fire safety conscious individual. Under the law, if found guilty by the court a person accused of the said criminal charge may face a prison term ranging from six months to six years, depending on the attending circumstances and the degree of negligence committed.

Records of the BFP shows that the most common causes of fire are open flame due to unattended lighted candle or gasera, carelessness in discarding lighted cigarette butts, open flame due to unattended cooking/stove, kaingin, pyrotechnics and children left alone playing lighted matchsticks or lighter.

Barayuga said that the BFP consistently reminds the public to be vigilant and to takethe necessary precautionary measures to avoid accidents caused by fires. He further reminded the public that a great number of families lost their houses and valuables, while countless individualseither lost their livesor have been seriously injured due the wrath of fire. However, despite the continuous reminder of the BFP to the public nationwide accidents still happen due to the negligence on the part of many of our people.

Knowing the devastating effects of fire, the BFP encourages the general public to help and cooperate with the BFP fire investigators during the conduct of investigation in determining who shall be held criminally liable in a particular fire incident, up to the point of filing a formal complaint against those who may be found responsible for the occurrence of fire.

Barayuga reiterated that fire prevention starts at home. He said that it only takes an unguarded or careless moment to start a fire. “In just a couple of minutes, a house may be filled with smoke and this smoke and fumes may prove to be lethal” Barayuga said. He also said that prevention and suppression of destructive fires are the major concern of the BFP, but practicing and observing fire safety should be everybody’s concern for a fire-free and progressive nation.

Meanwhile, the BFP Chief issued a memorandum directing his men to be on heightened alert status in view of the Lenten season that starts this week. In the memorandum Chief Supt Barayuga reiterates the role of the firefighters to extend the necessary assistance to those excursionists who will be travelling going to their respective provinces who will spend their holy week to their families. During this time, BFP personnel are on standby on major roads with their fire trucks and ambulances ready to respond in case of emergencies which are part of their OplanSumvac: LakbayAlalay 2015.