The Fire Prevention Month had ended but fires keep brewing nonstop. A forest fire swept the Mt. Apo National Park and burnt down some of its wildlife preserves. Fire suddenly struck the decades-old faculty facilities in University of the Philippines. And combustion sent the University of the East building ablaze. Numerous fire incidents came to news bulletins almost daily. And more talahib fires will be expected to come in the dry season.
The Bureau of Fire Protection never lacked of resources or measures to prevent such fire-related cases. Nor even the people never lacked awareness of what to do during a fire. So, why do we still have fire-related incidents?
Now, I do not want to throw more salt in the wound when it comes to talking about to disasters. There should be no room to point fingers at anyone. There should just be a time of reflection of what can be learned from disasters. But for people who are stewards of mother Philippines, we should always remember that all of us are – cue predictable line – accountable.
For a starter, calamities are hard to guess when they can hit. As for fires, they can be both natural and manmade. Natural fires can come in causes from extreme hot weather, which is the most delicate reason in this season, to chemical imbalance like gas leaks and sudden combustions. On the other hand, manmade fires direct from negligence of people to prevent from fire starters. Stuff like ignoring extinguishing bonfires or overheating appliances are directed to man’s responsibility. But both require awareness and cooperation for them to be prevented.
The best thing we can do, for both a victim and a non-victim, is to address that fires (or even any disaster) can happen anytime. As a citizen, it is in our responsibility to be well-informed before it happens, to be alert as it happens, to be reflective after it happens and to be watchful the next time it happens. To put it in the words of the mascot for US forest fire prevention Smokey the Bear, “you can only prevent forest fires”.
This is to the people who lost their loved ones and belongings in the past fires. Let us all play our part in fire prevention because fire prevention happens everyday.