Senate committee pursues BFP modernization and reclassification

With another scorching summer approaching, the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs conducted a hearing on modernizing the Bureau of Fire Protection for greater protection of communities against fires.

The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs discussed certain proposals on the modernization of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in its hearing last March 4.

Presided by Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, the committee seeks to consolidate Senate Bills Nos. 415, 1101, and 1201 reclassifying the ranks of BFP personnel to those held by the Philippine National Police (PNP)., and Senate Bills Nos. 204, 498, 947, and 1017 which aim to modernize the agency.

As the committee chairperson, Dela Rosa noted that the bill has to be passed in order for the bureau to have equal status with its counterpart agencies like the Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police. 

The hearing was attended by officials from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), who expressed their support of the bill’s passage. “A rank is not just a rank that we wear, it is a symbol of leadership, a symbol of command and control, so we really need this reclassification to be the same as the PNP,” said BFP Director Jose S. Embang, Jr.

DILG Undersecretary of Public Safety Nestor F. Quinsay, said the department also supports the measure to help boost the morale of firefighters, which could make their performance more efficient. He added that with this proposal, they can extend their programs awarding fire trucks and other equipment to local government units nationwide.

Meanwhile, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go emphasized the need to address issues in improving the services of the bureau as the summer months, when fires are more likely to happen, are fast approaching.

“It is only timely to discuss this public concern as we commemorate the Fire Prevention Month when the temperature and humidity start to reach higher levels causing a rise in reported fires around the country”, Go said.

One of the proponents of BFP modernization, Sen. Go filed Senate Bill No. 204, which aims to give the BFP better equipment and resources to train its personnel and strengthen its workforce by hiring more employees.

Dela Rosa and Go attested that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) are committed in funding the additional expenses for the planned modernization program.

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