An official request for four new fire trucks for the province of Catanduanes had gone unanswered since it
was sent by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in 2019.
According to information provided by a fire officer last week, the four fire trucks were supposed to be for
the capital town of Virac, which needs two new ones, and the municipalities of San Miguel and
The Tribune tried to secure a copy of the 2019 letter-request from the office of Deputy Fire Director Chief
Inspector Rico Brizuela but personnel have yet to locate the file which was apparently misplaced during
super typhoon Rolly in 2020.
Last Dec. 27, 2021, Brizuela and other provincial fire officers visited Governor Joseph Cua to discuss the
pending request for fire equipment.
The chief executive vowed to send a follow-up letter to Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on the
Under current standards, there is supposed to be one (1) firetruck number for every 28,000 population.
Thus, Virac is entitled to at least two (2) firetrucks, with the other 10 towns to have one each.
The BFP is mandated to establish at least one (1) fire station with adequate personnel, firefighting
facilities and equipment in every provincial capital, city and municipality.
Virac’s municipal fire marshal, Senior Insp. Marlon Vargas, told the Tribune that while his station has two
standard firetrucks and a smaller one, only Fire Engine No. 4 is operational.
The other standard firetruck, Fire Engine No. 1, is more than 30 years old and is idled at a repair yard for
overhauling of its engine, he bared.
On the other hand, the smaller truck is considered to be beyond economic repair and sits at a corner of
the Virac fire station in barangay Rawis.
With regards to the personnel complement, Vargas said that the station has 28 fire officers, with 14
assigned to each firetruck on a 12-hours on and 12-hours off duty.
The fire officer also disclosed that all 25 fire hydrants installed in the capital town are operational, but no
new one has been installed in the last 20 years despite the considerable increase in the town’s population
and number of structures.
Under the Fire Code of the Philippines, the BFP is mandated to determine the optimal number of
equipment, including fire trucks and fire hydrants, required by every local government unit for the proper
delivery of fire protection services.
The same Code also mandates LGUs, in coordination with the BFP and through the water districts, to
provide each community with fire hydrants and cisterns or elevated tanks that will provide enough water
for firefighting operations.
To compound the situation, even the Virac fire station itself is in a state of disrepair following damage
inflicted by supertyphoon Rolly.
“The BFP has no funds for repair, as allocations for the expense is taken from year-end savings,” the fire
marshal said, adding that their initial request for funding was sent back as it exceeded the P2-million limit.
Senior Insp. Vargas stated that the BFP has asked the Virac LGU to provide additional funds, with the
Municipal Engineering Office reportedly in charge of drawing up the program of work.
In the meantime, the station will have to make do with the P15,000 given by the BFP provincial office,
plus personal contributions of the Virac fire personnel, to complete the repair of the GI roofing and
He allayed fears that with one operational firetruck, the Virac fire station would not be able to respond to a
conflagration or multiple fire incidents.’
Using the running card system, he assured that the BFP units from nearby towns would be able to
respond to their call for assistance although he admitted that the travel time would affect the response.
With regards to the deadly Jan. 4 fire in barangay Concepcion that killed four members of a family, the
Virac fire station described as false and untrue allegations that its firetruck was delayed in responding to
the incident and that it had no water in its tank.
He disclosed that after the station received the call from businessman Joseph Edward Talaran, who lives
near the victim’s occupied house, the firetruck arrived at the scene in two minutes or at 3:22 AM.
The Bato fire station’s truck arrived 10 minutes later at 3:32 AM while that of San Andres BFP came at
The Virac MDRRMO equipment also arrived, providing water to the three firetrucks.
He likewise debunked claims that the Virac firetruck had no or little water in its tank.
“We are mandated to ensure that the firetruck’s tank is always filled with 1,000 gallons of water at any
time,” the fire marshal stated, as any fire officer responsible for the duty shall be dismissed if found to be