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Fire prevention and El Niño

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March became Fire Prevention Month in the Philippines in 1966, when then President Ferdinand Marcos signed Proclamation 115-A, assigning a particular aspect of safety and accident prevention to each month of the year. The initiative, according to the proclamation, propagates “safety consciousness among our people every day of the year as a positive preventive approach to a problem that can be solved by more caution, vigilance, sobriety, exercise of common sense, and respect for the law.”

Incidentally, March also happens to be one of the hottest months in the country, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services, it is around this month when temperature and humidity start to reach high levels.

It is also during this time that a higher number of fire incidents are recorded. Based on data from the Philippine Statistical Authority, March has one of the highest number of fire incidents reported.

This year, with a full-blown El Nino in progress, the dry season is going to be more pronounced, which means that the heat and dry conditions will be adding to the danger of fires breaking out, especially in areas that are not well taken care of, where it doesn’t take much to start a fire that could end up threatening lives and property.

As we celebrate Fire Prevention Month in the midst of a dry spell, let us add the maintenance of idle areas to the list of precautions that we should already know by now, including checking electrical wiring and equipment, checking for gas leaks, disposing cigarette butts properly, and the safe storage of flammable materials, along with establishing emergency and evacuation plans for homes and places of work, and posting the number of the fire department in conspicuous places.

Bacolod City has already recorded almost 50 fire incidents, just two months into the year. As the dry summer heat intensifies, we should be ready for more. However, even better than preparing for fires is working harder for its prevention, which will be extra challenging during an El Nino. Hopefully the Filipino people, along with the Bureau of Fire Department and other volunteer fire brigades, are up to the challenge.*

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