This Sunday, March 1, is the start of the annual observance of Fire Prevention Month. Almost every year this occasion is filled with irony. More fires seem to occur during this month than any other time of the year.
As usual, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) will remind people of measures to take to prevent and/or reduce the damage a fire will cause to life and property—like knowing the location of the nearest fire hydrant.
Last year, a friend in Pasay City was alarmed that when a fire broke out in her community, firemen could not find the hydrant at the intersection close to her home. It seemed to have vanished. Did people decide not just to take the water but also the whole installation and sell it as scrap metal?
That is possible these days when even screwed-on facilities in public places are not spared by thieves.
I decided to look around for fire hydrants during my daily commute and was surprised that there really seemed to be fewer of them. But apparently I was looking for the wrong things. The short, robot-like hydrants have been gradually replaced by unobtrusive installations buried on sidewalks, marked only by small metal pieces for opening.
Both Manila and Maynilad water companies assured us that they have installed enough hydrants to meet potential needs. Manila Water’s Jeric Sevilla says, “As of June 2014, we had 3,130 operable fire hydrants located within our East Zone. Normally, there are fire hydrants within a 250-300 meter interval. We work closely with local government units to determine the location of the fire hydrants particularly in blighted areas.”
But he says they can only put fire hydrants along thoroughfares, not inside communities.
“We do monthly checks of our fire hydrants to ensure they are working and can be used in cases of fire and we maintain close coordination with barangay and LGUs to ensure that there is no unauthorized withdrawal or tampering of the hydrants,” he points out.
Jennifer Rufo of Maynilad says BFP is informed of the new spring-type hydrants.
“We issue them the valve key that will open these spring-type hydrants and we also provide a map so they can locate these hydrants,” she adds.
Under Republic Act 9514, which established the fire code of the Philippines, BFP has the task of determining “the optimal number of equipment, including, but not limited to, fire trucks and fire hydrants, required by every local government unit for the proper delivery of fire protection services in its jurisdiction.”
Another kind of burn
With the temperature starting to rise, there is another kind of burn that people have to watch out for: sunburn. Global warming is making it necessary for us to apply protection from the sun even when we are doing nothing more than commuting to and from work.
As long as there is some exposure to the sun, we should remember to use sunscreen.
Children particularly need protection as they have very sensitive skin.
Since people have different types of skin, ask a dermatologist or skin doctor about the most suitable product for you and your child—the one that has the appropriate SPF (sun protection factor, which theoretically indicates the amount of time it is safe for you to stay under the sun without getting burned).
Those who prefer natural, organic products for their kids may want to try Human Nature’s 100% Natural Safeprotect for Kids. The product is estimated to block 93 percent of sun’s ultraviolet B rays and uses only “all-good, sea-safe natural ingredients” to protect coral reefs and other marine resources.
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