Know what to do in case of fire
MANILA, Philippines – If you were on the top floor of a high rise building, how many minutes would it take you to get to a safe evacuation area?
This is exactly the kind of question that the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) wants the public to keep in mind during these hot summer months when fire incidents are highest.
The BFP, in cooperation with local government units, is conducting its annual fire drills in office and residential buildings nationwide as mandated by the Fire Code of the Philippines (RA 9514),
Know the drill
The standard fire drill starts with a siren to alert tenants to evacuate using only designated fire exits. It's important to always know your nearest exit.
Avoid using elevators as they are needed by firefighters and resuce personnel. In addition, they are not safe escape routes.
Keep your head low to avoid excessive smoke inhalation.
Move in an orderly and calm pace. Panicking only makes your situation worse.
Make your way to the nearest evacuation area or open space that is safe from fire, smoke or structural damage.
Fire is one of the most dangerous hazards to Filipinos in urban and rural areas.
In March - the fire prevention month - there were 1,727 reported fire incidents, according to the BFP.
The bureau wants to make fire safety awareness top of mind all year round.
"The most important thing for tenants to know is the evacuation procedure." Major Nazrudyn Cablayan, Chief of Plans and Training of Pasig City fire station said at a recent drill along Julia Vargas Ave in the city.
He added that people who know the evacuation route and are alert are less at risk.
Know your fire
There are four classes of fires. Knowing which is which can help save a life.
Ordinary, combustible materials such as wood, paper or plastics make up Class A. They may be put out using the common red or blue fire extinguisher or water.
The second category consists of flammable liquids and chemicals. Fires caused by leaks of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and laboratory accidents are some examples of this kind of fire. Like Class A fires, the red and blue fire extinguishers may also be used for Class B fires.
Fires due to an electrical fault are considered Class C fires. Overheated electric fans and plugged mobile chargers are common causes of Class C fires. Water and water-based extinguishers must never be used to put out this type of fire as it may cause electrocution. Red and green fire extinguishers may be used for this category.
Class D fires involving metals are rare, according to BFP, and should be put out by the fire department for safety purposes.
The next time you need to use a fire extinguisher, remember these four steps:
P-ull the pin
A-im at the base of the fire
S-queeze the operating handle
S-weep from side to side
The BFP also conducts fire safety awareness seminars in barangays and schools. You can invite your local BFP fire station to come to your school, business or organization.
It's also good to memorize the direct lines of fire stations near your home and work places. For Metro Manila residents, you can dial 117.
Keep this information handy and be ready the next time you hear the fire alarm ring, smell or see smoke. – Rappler.com
Beata Carolino is a Journalism student at the University of the Philippines - Diliman and a Rappler intern.