By LINA SAGARAL REYES
Special Correspondent .
SOME 913 buildings, structures and facilities in the city, are considered fire hazards, Supt. Arthur Arbutante, city chief fire marshal revealed on Saturday.
The fire hazards comprise around 3.8 percent of the city’s 24,000 structures and edifices, he noted.
Arbutante stressed that the periodic inspections and re-inspections are an essential part of the Bureau of Fire Protection’s mandate.
The city’s district office of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has stepped up its monitoring and inspection over the city’s commercial, industrial and premises, facilities and buildings to ensure that these structures have complied with the provisions of RA 9514, also known as the 2008 Fire Code of the Philippines.
The country celebrates March as Fire Prevention Month, with the theme, “Ligtas na Pilipinas ang ating hangad; pag-iingat sa sunog ay sa sarili ipatupad.’’
“Fire safety inspectors are trained to spot deficiencies and violations of the Fire Code,’’ said Arbutante, adding that “the list is drawn mostly during the last quarter of the year, and building owners and managers are notified through a Notice to Correct Violations (NCV).’’
“This is not something we’ve simply drawn up ourselves but these are specifically stated in the implementing rules and regulations of the Fire Code, which BFP is mandated to enforce. We require all those in the list to correct the violations within 15 days, or else they have to pay the administrative fine of P50,000,’’ he said.
Quoting provisions of the Fire Code, Arbutante also said some of those concerned have approached his office to execute an affidavit of undertaking, that specifies the number of days and the scope of work needed in order to comply with the Fire Code.
Arbutante has noted that a number of violators had visited his office and signified to comply, as compliance is a requirement to renew annual business permits at the city’s one-stop business center at the start of the year.
Among those in the list, 408 mercantile structures, referring to medium-sized stores, including those located in mall are most numerous at 45 percent.
The establishments in the list include:
- business establishments like banks, commercial buildings (192);
- residential buildings like dormitories, hotels and inns (92);
- storage facilities such as warehouses (60);
- places of assembly like churches and restaurants (84);
- educational facilities, like schools and colleges (42);
- industrial establishments, like factories (32); and
- healthcare facilities as hospitals and clinics (2).
Arbutante also mentioned that the lack of secondary stairs is the most common violation. The Fire Code requires all buildings to have a second door to offer persons an alternative route to exit a building in case it is no longer possible to use the main door. The secondary exit route must also have stairs not just a ladder. The exit doors must swing outwards, Arbutante stressed.
He said that another common violation is the lack of in-house fire fighting equipment such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, sprinklers and emergency light.
Those found to be persistent violators during periodic re-inspections are further fined another P50,000, and the BFP puts up a tarpaulin signage stating that the building or structure is a fire hazard.
Arbutante said the BFP will soon map out these fire hazard to increase public awareness.