LAST June 24, a red firetruck marked ‘UN Paco Fire & Rescue Volunteer’-(take note, the word used was ‘volunteer’ and not ‘volunteers’ meaning, he is alone? Hahah) almost hit this writer’s car as I exited a mall on UN Avenue. The truck driver could have given way since he saw the car from afar but instead, he went full speed ahead and sounded the deafening fire alarm at that very moment, prompting us to take a sharp landing on another lane, also nearly hitting another vehicle.
Notably, the said firetruck decided to sound the siren in a fit of ego trip. Had the siren been on, way before, we would have heard it and stopped at the exit to give way, as what normal citizens do when there is a ‘responding’ firetruck or ambulance.
To my utter dismay, the truck merely parked along UN Avenue. I was taking a video when two men without face masks came out of Barangay 664-A hall and questioned us. When told that he nearly hit us for speeding up for no reason, he merely said ‘nagmamadali kami eh.’ When asked what for when there was no fire and why he was not wearing a face mask, he turned his back and, seeing the ‘press’sign in front, he then said he had no problem about landing in the media.
First off, the guy was not responding to any emergency or fire because otherwise, the siren would have been continuous and we could have heard it from afar. Since as I’ve said, he only sounded the siren as he neared our vehicle, it goes to show that he merely wanted to ‘bully’a smaller vehicle out of his way for the fun of it.
Secondly, he parked along UN Avenue where, according to Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau director Dennie Viaje, parking at anytime is prohibited on both sides since it had been declared as a ‘Mabuhay Lane.’ Note that the MPD headquarters is located along UN Avenue and yet, none of its personnel is violating that parking prohibition.
Thirdly, the guy who confronted us had no facemask on. In Manila, wearing of facemasks is mandatory under a city ordinance which even provides penalties and fines for violators.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) rules also mandates the wearing of facemasks.
The fourth notable violation is that the vehicle had no registered plate number. When buying a new vehicle, one is not allowed to drive it around without a plate number or he will be fined a hefty amount. A source fom the Land Transportation Office told me firetrucks are not exempt from that LTO ruling. (Paging, LTO chief and Asec Edgar Galvante and LTO NCR West and LTO-LES Director Atty. Clarence V. Guinto)
By the way, the barangay hall from which the two men emerged and which belonged to Barangay 664-A, is located right on the sidewalk which, according to the Manila barangay bureau, is also prohibited.
Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO) chief Arnel Angeles, who was directed by Mayor Isko Moreno to look into the incident, said firetrucks may park only in front of their headquarters. In the case of the ‘UN Paco Fire Volunteer,’ he was even surprised when told by his staff that the said firetruck’s headquarters is in Sta. Mesa but it carried ‘UN Paco’ in its name.
Ka Arnel Angeles also said he has already coordinated with the Office of Civil Defense which has jurisdiction over a group called CIDAG which, in turn, has jurisdiction over the said volunteer group headed by one Nikki Salcedo.
Volunteer firefighter friends also told me that under the rules, their firetrucks are only to use their sirens when responding to fire.
I wrote and posted the story of his arrogance so that other volunteers will not do the same. A colleague of mine, Pat Santos of Tribune, said he also got nearly hit by the same truck while on his way to the press office on board a motorcycle.
I have countless friends and even relatives who are fire volunteers and I take my hats off to them for the kind of dedication they have to be of service to others without expecting anything in return. There is no question that their objectives are noble and that a good majority of them have the best intentions in mind.
However, sometimes, a rotten piece landing in a basket of eggs or tomatoes is really inevitable. I do not know the arrogant volunteer who nearly hit my car and I won’t get anything from fabricating a story against him. I’m stating facts in the hope that there won’t be others after me.
Volunteer firefighters who do their job within the bounds of law and acceptable norms should not take offense because the story and subsequent post did not touch on any of them. It tackled the specific incident and the particular person involved.
In fact, these good volunteers should be the first to condemn the guy who abused the use of the firetruck, for bringing shame and dishonour to the ranks of fire volunteers who, generally, deserve to be commended for their selfless dedication to help fire victims and more.
Jokjok (from Genevieve de Guzman of Sampaloc, Manila )--- PEDRO: Bakit binaril ng bobo ang girlfriend nya?/JUAN: Bakit?/PEDRO: Kasi, sinubukan niya kung totoong ‘FIRST LOVE NEVER DIES!’
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