A bill that seeks to authorize heads of local government units or LGUs to appoint and discipline Bureau of Fire Protection or BFP marshals and personnel in their communities has been filed in the House of Representatives.
In “House Bill no. 4662”, Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian said governors as well as city and municipal mayors should have joint authority, responsibility, and accountability with the BFP in improving and delivering fire safety plans and programs.
“The protection of life and property against fire is a mandate lodged with BFP. However, the catastrophic losses that may result from fire require LGUs to make it one of their priorities to have a well-equipped facilities and well-trained fire personnel,” Gatchalian explained.
“Towards this end, the State should provide local chief executives of LGUs joint authority with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the BFP in the appointment of fire marshals in their respective jurisdictions,” he added.
Gatchalian, a member of House Committee on Local Government, shared that many LGUs have supplemented the Bureau of Fire Protection deficiencies in their facilities and personnel to ensure their respective localities will have sufficient fire protection services.
“Since many LGUs are already involved in activities of BFP, it is high time to grant local chief executives joint authority in the appointment of fire marshals in their respective jurisdiction and limited administrative disciplinary,” he added.
The former three-term mayor of Valenzuela City filed the bill last month after consecutive fires killed 13 people in separate incidents in Metro Manila long after this year’s Fire Prevention Month is over.
He said destructive fires result in huge losses in both property and lives, making it crucial for LGU officials to have such firefighters at their helm.
If enacted, HB No. 4662 would amend the provisions of Republic Act No. 6975 or the “Local Government Act of 1990” that enables local government units or LGUs to enjoy meaningful local autonomy and become self-reliant communities.
Governors and mayors would be deputized as representatives of the DILG Secretary in their respective localities in exercising and supervising the operations of BFP personnel and offices.
Provincial governors would have the power to choose the provincial and district fire marshals recommended by the Regional Director of Fire Protection and BFP district offices.
City and municipal mayor would be given authority to conduct “operational supervision and control” and impose due penalties for minor offenses on Bureau of Fire Protection personnel in their respective jurisdictions. (Tim Alcantara)