Saturday, March 3, 2012

PIA-SMART launches Infoboard program in CV

CEBU CITY, Marso 2 (PIA) -- Cell phones with SMART as service provider will soon receive disaster alerts and weather bulletin including important advisories and information after SMART and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA-7) in Central Visayas launched the Smart Infoboard program at the PIA-7 conference room, Machay building at Gorordo Ave., in Cebu City yesterday (March 1).

Some 30 information officers from Cebu, Bohol and NegOr that are members of the Regional Association of Development Information Officers (RADIO-7) including those of the national and local government agencies attended the Smart-PIA Infoboard launching. 

PIA-7 regional director Minerva Newman said the Infoboard is a tool where cell phone subscribers that are registered for the services can receive free information from government daily. 

In a way, the messages that government used to send through personal cell phones can now be sent via a central number assigned by SMART and only those subscribers that allow the text messages on their cellphones can receive these information.

The PIA links with SMART Communications for sending/texting important information on the weather, disaster risk reduction managment and prevention and all other vital information that the public needs to know immediately. 

According to the briefing by SMART officials, a cell phone user that allows the SMS/Text information are subscribed to the program through the PIA.

With this, text scams and text scares are prevented because the SMS and messages that are sent thru the Infoboard have specific assigned numbers.(Rey Anthony Chiu/PIA-Bohol)

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BFP: 19% less fires in 2011But damages soared 200%
By Rey Anthony H. Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, March 2, (PIA) – The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) noted a 19.54 percent reduction in fire incidents in 2011 compared to 2010, but for authorities much can still be desired.

In 2011 when there were fewer fire incidents damages to property was at P41 million compared to only P13 million in 2010 fires, according to Bohol Provincial Fire Marshal Pepe Rebusa.

Still struggling to salvage a seared ego after earning criticisms over a fire that gutted two houses and damaged some estimated P8 million in properties, fire authorities in Bohol said this year’s Fire Prevention Month theme couldn’t be more fitting --“Maki-isa at Makipagtutulongan Upang Sunog ay Maiwasan.”

Rebusa noted that part of the reason the fire in Loay raged for a long time was the communication network just did not turn well as expected.

Rebusa hinted that communicating the alarm should have been far more efficient because this is crucial in mobilizing assets and reiterating the role of unity and cooperation in fire prevention.

This did not happen as desired, said a fire fighter who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak.

“Just how many among cell phone users have Fire Station numbers stored in their contacts?” Rebusa asked.

Fire Prevention Month coming in quite ironically with the two houses in Loay and at least three classroom buildings in Talibon razed not a week apart before March 1. 

It may be recalled that firemen were informed of the Loay fire only after the initial five minutes when the blaze started, and the Provincial Fire Operations Center which should have been second to know about the incident was informed at least 11 minutes after the first alarm was received. 

In these times when cell phones are everywhere, nobody remembered calling the right responders, Rebusa bemoaned.

In a report submitted to the Department of Interior and Local Government, BFP said there were 87 fire incidents in 2010. This was cut to 70 in 2011 or some 19.54 percent.

Among those types of structures burned in 2010, 57 were residential and only 48 were recorded in 2011, registering a 15.79 percent decrease, BFP-Bohol reported.

In most cases, fires were accidentally caused while region-wide statistics showed that there were 13 intentional fires noted within the period, Rebusa added. 

The report also showed that most of the causes of fires are faulty electrical connection with 41 incidents in the last two years; open flames due to torch -27; electrical appliances- 16; open flames due to unattended lighted candles -15 and lighted cigarette butts- 9 that were thrown anywhere.

In the beginning months of 2012, BFP responded to 15 fire alarms, 8 of them in January and 3 in February.

Of these, 11 were residential houses, two commercial buildings and one educational structure were involved in fire incidents racking an estimated damage cost of around P10 million. 

BFP base its damage figures on submitted affidavits of loss by victims. (mbcn/rahc/PIA-Bohol)

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Loay fire destroys P7M propertyAs Fire Prevention Month rolls in...
By Rey Anthony H. Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, March 2 (PIA) – Propoerty worth at least P7 million were destroyed when fire gutted two houses in Poblacion Ubos, Loay Bohol early morning of February 23.

The 4-hour fire started from an unplugged electric iron and according to Bohol Fire Marshal Pepe Rebusa in his post fire analysis, Loay Fire Station (FS) admitted difficulties in its quick response and in controlling the fire due to distance, communication relay problems, and failure to activate a local fire response plan. 

Local sources also confessed that even with a fire truck the local water supply was shut off for that night. That hampered firefighters’ capability to efficiently respond to the fire scene and it led to finger pointing by local officials and disaster responders. 

Rebusa said Loay Fire Station admitted these difficulties critically slowed their response time. 

Then located in the town center, Loay Fire Station was transferred to some two kilometers in Barangay Yanangan.

Moreover, with no telephone lines installed in the station, firefighters have to rely on personal cell phones to coordinate responses. 

According to independent sources, Loay FS has radio communications equipment but it is hooked to the Ultra High Frequency, which could not get to the Very High Frequency used by Bohol Law Enforcement Communication System (BLECS). 

Moreover, Loay Fire Station Commander Senior Fire Officer 1 Jose Libante admitted he was not able to implement the municipal Pre-Fire Planning and other Fire Safety Awareness [trainings] for lack of funds. 

Fire victims complained about the delayed response of Loay, Dimiao and Baclayon firetrucks, those which were supposed to be on site. 

At the Kapihan sa PIA Thursday, the BFP through Rebusa, wondered why nobody relayed quick information that it took more than ten minutes before Tarsier received and relayed the alarm to the Fire Operations Center. 

“In this time of cell phones we expect everyone in the community to help us, it just did not happen fast,” he said. 

Based on the timelines as presented by Loay Fire Station and corroborated by other emergency operations centers nearby, the Loay firefighters received the alarm at 12:45 AM, February 21. 

Loay firefighters said a motorcycle riding man informed them of the fire. 

Considering the almost 2 kilometer distance from the FS to Loay town center and the time spent for the informer to get to the FS, so much had already happened. 

Another considerable time spent for the fire team to get to the fire scene aggravated the situation. 

According to Fsupt Rebusa, the initial 3-5 minutes after the breakout is very crucial in controlling the fire.

“Beyond that it’s almost certainly a huge effort is needed to extinguish the fire,” Rebusa added. 

On the other hand, Tagbilaran City based TaRSIER 117 accordingly received the fire alarm, about 11 minutes after Loay FS was informed. 

Immediately, TaRSIER switchboard operators called the Bohol Fire Marshal Operations Center through SFO1 Othoniel Galia 12:57 p.m. 

Galia in turn called Baclayon FS to immediately dispatch the town fire truck, 12:58. By 12:59, SFO1 Galia also called Dimiao FS for response. 

A few minutes after that, or at 1:10, at the fire scene, Loay duty fire officers: FO1 Ismael Bungabong and SFO1 Jose Libante saw that the fire has raged and had to call Tagbilaran City FS for reinforcements. 

Fire was out at 4:45, but not after totally turning to ashes some estimated P7-8M in property damages. (mbcn/rahc/PIA-Bohol)

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