Arming firefighters

August 05, 2019

A WELCOME development in this poverty-stricken Southeast Asian nation, there’s now a snowballing move to arm the uniformed personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

The Philippine National Police (PNP), the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the BFP are all under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

But unlike our policemen and jail guards, firefighters are not allowed to bear guns, leaving them at the mercy of irate residents who, in some instances, attack them while putting out fires.

“Kasi may mga residenteng nagagalit sa mga kawawang bumbero na hindi inuunang bugahan ng tubig ang kanilang mga nasusunog na bahay o tindahan,” lamented a son of a fireman.

That’s why he thanked President Duterte for floating the idea of arming our firefighters, citing the need for them to defend themselves in case they are attacked by an angry mob.

No less than the PNP, the country’s premier law enforcement agency, supports the Chief Executive’s idea.

PNP spokesman B/Gen. Bernard M. Banac said “this move of tapping the BFP as force multiplier by allowing its uniformed personnel to bear arms would also further bolster the government’s campaign against criminality.”

Under Republic Act (RA) No. 6975, the President is authorized to direct the PNP, the BJMP and the BFP to assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in addressing national emergencies.

Many times, firemen even hesitated to enter a fire scene without sufficient security cover by policemen due to past incidents wherein angry mob attacked them out of frustration, according to Banac.

Thus, we cannot overemphasize the importance of allowing BFP personnel to carry firearms as proposed by President Duterte and supported by the PNP under Director-General Oscar “Odie” D. Albayalde.