Issue of February 3, 2019
     
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Foreign experts update skills of local firefighters
by Pamela Mariz Geminiano / PNA

TUBA, Benguet – One hundred eight staff members of the Bureau of Fire Protection-Cordillera completed a five-day training that aimed to equip them with new techniques on rescue operations and firefighting.

“The five-day training will help our firefighters in the region perform emergency response effectively,” BFP Chief Leonard Bañago said.

He said the training, which consisted of lectures and simulations, was conducted by the Fire Fighters for Christ (FFC) of California, a group of retired firefighters who conduct training on new technologies and equipment on firefighting and rescue.

“Public safety is our challenge, but with the training done with the help of FFC, we can perform our mandate to protect and secure the public in any kind of situation,” Bañago said.

Participants were taught three new techniques – swift water rescue facilitated by Danny Rodriquez, Bob Ameche, and Simon Hewiit; wild land fire management by Joe Lindaman, Patrick Stilson, and Tom Nichols; and auto extrication by Luis Carlos and Dave Kromka.

“The Cordillera is a mountainous region. If there is a wildfire, equipment cannot be brought to the top of the mountain. Wild land management taught them to make use of what they have, such as soil or shovel to put out the fire,” Bañago said.

In auto-extrication, he said, being calm is the most important factor.

“Using a battery-powered saw is the most effective way of saving a person trapped inside a vehicle,” he said, adding that this needs to be done fast, especially if there is danger of the vehicle exploding.

The training was the fourth to be conducted by foreign firefighting experts under the BFP National Headquarters’ Training Camp Philippines 2019. The first was conducted in Quezon City, followed by Bacolod, Davao, and the Cordillera.

The FFC, a non-profit organization in the U.S., was established in January 1976 to encourage firefighters to live their lives for Jesus Christ.

BFP-Cordillera Director Sophie Mendoza said the training familiarized personnel on life-saving equipment.

“This training is equipment-based. The FFC donated cutting tools for auto extrication, shovels, and rope bags for water rescue operations,” Mendoza said.

“Our functions have been evolving. Before, we were just into fire suppression. Now, we are capable of conducting search and rescue operations during disaster and emergencies and even handling hazardous materials,” she said.

Trainer Joe Lindaman said they included Cordillera in the training because of the susceptibility of the region to vehicular accidents, mountain fire, and even flash floods.

Lindaman said knowledge on how to use equipment would save lives.


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