Edu Rama: Residential areas must have fire extinguishers

CEBU City Second District Representative Eduardo "Edu" Rama Jr. saw the need to require owners of residential buildings or structures to maintain portable fire extinguishers to prevent fire incidents.

Data from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) showed that the majority of the fire incidents in the country took place in residential areas.

Rama proposed House Bill (HB) 6200, or "An Act Requiring Owners of Residential Building or Structures to Maintain Portable Fire Extinguishers," which requires every owner of any residential building or structure to maintain portable fire extinguishers commensurate with the number of occupants and the frequency of occupancy, use, equipment contained in the residential building, as well as the hazard classification of the area, regardless of its equipped fixed fire protection system and equipment.

"Residential fires, which rank as the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in the Philippines, are mostly caused by faulty electrical wiring or connections, unsupervised open flames, and neglected electrical equipment or gadgets," Rama said in his explanatory note.

The lawmaker added that portable fire extinguishers are easy to use and require minimal training and orientation to operate.

“Installing and maintaining one at home may be helpful in abating and suppressing fire incidents as it would put out small fires before they get out of control this would prevent injury, death and damage to property,” he said.

He also stressed that residential fires often occur in densely populated areas where occupants are less likely to maintain portable fire extinguishers.

Under the bill, low-income households shall receive subsidies or support from their respective local government units and the national government in purchasing the required portable fire extinguishers.

"The city or municipal planning and development officer shall assess the poverty threshold and identify the income classes in the local government unit concerned. The results of the assessment and classification, upon validation by the Philippine Statistics Authority, shall serve as a reference for the subsidy or support," read section 3 of HB 6200.

Rama added that the budget for the initial implementation of the Act shall be charged to the BFP Modernization Trust Fund under Republic Act 11589 or the "Bureau of Fire Protection Modernization Act."

The necessary budget within the city or municipality level in implementing the Act shall also be charged from all taxes, fees, and fines collected pursuant to RA 9514 or the "Fire Code of the Philippines of 2008."

The House Bill was filed on November 16, 2022.

From January to November 23 this year, the BFP has recorded a total of 11,383 fire incidents nationwide.

The top causes of fire incidents in the country include electrical ignition caused by arching, electrical ignition caused by a loose connection, and smoking/lighted cigarettes.

The BFP also recorded a total of P4.4 billion worth of damage to property because of these incidents. (PR)