Sunday, March 15, 2009

This Being Fire Prevention Month . . . (Let’s tackle the Revised Fire Code of the Philippines)

By Siesta-friendly

In case you didn’t know, the Fire Code of the Philippines was revised last December 2008. We now have a Revised Fire Code of the Philippines by virtue of the enactment of RA 9514[1]. March being Fire Prevention Month, its only appropriate we tackle this new law.


Under Section 7 of the Act, owners, administrators or occupants of buildings, structures and their premises or facilities and other responsible persons are required to comply with the following, as may be appropriate:

  1. Inspection Requirement - Fire safety inspections shall be conducted by the BFP prior to the grants of permits and/or licenses by local governments and other government agencies concerned, for the 1) Use or occupancy of buildings, structures, facilities or their premises including the installation or fire protection and fire safety equipment, and electrical system in any building structure or facility; and 2) Storage, handling and/or use of explosives or of combustible, flammable, toxic and other hazardous materials;

  1. Safety Measures for Hazardous Materials - Fire safety measures are required for the manufacture, storage, handling and/or use of hazardous materials involving any substance with potential to cause harm to persons, property or the environment because of one or more of the following: a) The chemical properties of the substance; b) The physical properties of the substance; c) The biological properties of the substance. All dangerous goods, combustible liquids and chemicals are hazardous materials.

  1. Safety Measures for Hazardous Operation/Processes - Fire Safety measures are required for the following hazardous operation/processes: 1) welding or soldering; 2) industrial baking and drying; 3) waste disposal; 4) pressurized/forced-draft burning equipment; 5) smelting and forging; 6) motion picture projection using electrical arc lamps; 7) refining, distillation and solvent extraction; and 8) such other operations or processes as may hereafter be prescribed in the Rules and Regulations.

  1. Provision on Fire Safety Construction, Protective and Warning System - Owners, occupants or administrator or buildings, structures and their premises or facilities shall incorporate and provide therein fire safety construction, protective and warning system, and shall develop and implement fire safety programs, to wit:

1) Fire protection features such as sprinkler systems, hose boxes, hose reels or standpipe systems and other fire fighting equipment;

2) Fire Alarm systems;

3) Fire walls to separate adjoining buildings, or warehouses and storage areas from other occupancies in the same building;

4) Provisions for confining the fire at its source such as fire resistive floors and walls extending up to the next floor slab or roof, curtain boards and other fire containing or stopping components;

5) Termination of all exits in an area affording safe passage to a public way or safe dispersal area;

6) Stairway, vertical shafts, horizontal exits and other means of egress sealed from smoke and heat;

7) A fire exit plan for each floor of the building showing the routes from each other room to appropriate exits, displayed prominently on the door of such room;

8) Self-closing fire resistive doors leading to corridors;

9) Fire dampers in centralized air-conditioning ducts;

10) Roof vents for use by fire fighters; and

11) Properly marked and lighted exits with provision for emergency lights to adequately illuminate exit ways in case of power failure.

Already bored? Don’t be. The info are important.

Prohibited Acts

Under Section 8, the following are prohibited:

a) Obstructing or blocking the exit ways or across to buildings clearly marked for fire safety purposes, such as but not limited to aisles in interior rooms, any part of stairways, hallways, corridors, vestibules, balconies or bridges leading to a stairway or exit of any kind, or tolerating or allowing said violations;

b) Constructing gates, entrances and walkways to buildings components and yards which obstruct the orderly and easy passage of fire fighting vehicles and equipment;

c) Prevention, interference or obstruction of any operation of the fire service, or of duly organized and authorized fire brigades;

d) Obstructing designated fire lanes or access to fire hydrants;

e) Overcrowding or admission of persons beyond the authorized capacity in movie houses, theaters, coliseums, auditoriums or other public assembly buildings, except in other assembly areas on the ground floor with open sides or open doors sufficient to provide safe exits;

f) Locking fire exits during period when people are inside the building;

g) Prevention or obstruction of the automatic closure of fire doors or smoke partitions or dampers;

h) Use of fire protective or fire fighting equipment of the fire service other than for fire fighting except in other emergencies where their use are justified;

i) Giving false or malicious fire alarms;

j) Smoking in prohibited areas as may be determined by fire service, or throwing of cigars, cigarettes, burning objects in places which may start or cause fire;

k) Abandoning or leaving a building or structure by the occupant or owner without appropriate safety measures;

l) Removing, destroying, tampering or obliterating any authorized mark, seal, sign or tag posted or required by the fire service for fire safety in any building, structure or processing equipment; and

m) Use of jumpers or tampering with electrical wiring or overloading the electrical system beyond its designated capacity or such other practices that would tend to undermine the fire safety features of the electrical system.

Still awake? We’re half-way through.

Lead Government Agency

Pursuant to Section 5, the Code shall be administered and enforced by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). No occupancy permit, business or permit to operate shall be issued without securing a Fire Safety Inspection Certification (FSIC) from the BFP.

In addition, the BFP shall also:

a) Inspect at reasonable times, any building, structure, installation or premises for dangerous or hazardous conditions or materials, provided that in case of single family dwelling, an inspection must be upon the consent of the occupant or upon lawful order from the proper court. The BFP can order the owner/occupant to remove hazardous materials and/or stop hazardous operation/process;

b) Where conditions exist and are deemed hazardous to life and property, order the owner/occupant of any building or structure to summarily abate (or immediately stop) such hazardous conditions;

c) Require the building owner/occupant to submit plans and specifications, and other pertinent documents of said building; and

d) Issue a written notice to the owner and/or contractor to stop work on any portion of any work due to the absence, or in violation, of approved plans and specifications, permit and/or clearance or certification as approved by the BFP. The notice shall state the nature of the violation and no work shall be continued on that portion until the violation has been corrected.

Accordingly, below are tips and measures offered by the BFP on their website.

You should be fully alert for this.

Fire Safety Tips

a) Put phone numbers of fire department near phone.

b) Eliminate fire hazards through good housekeeping. Dispose waste paper, rubbish, and other flammable materials regularly.

c) Keep matches out of children’s reach.

d) Oil or gas lamps and candles should be placed away from curtains. Do not put them where the wind, children or pets may topple them. Put out the flame before going to bed.

e) Do not keep flammable materials like gasoline, alcohol, and paint inside the house.

f) Regularly check your electrical installations, and have all frayed (worn out) wirings and electrical fixtures changed or repaired by a licensed electrician.

g) Do not overload electrical circuits by putting additional lights and appliances.

h) Blown fuses should not be replaced with coins, wires, or any metal.

i) Never leave a lit cigarette/cigar/pipe unattended - it may fall on flammable materials which could start a fire.

Additional Simple Home Fire Prevention Measures

a) Crush your cigarettes and cigar stubs thoroughly before discarding them. Provide yourselves with ashtray. Do not smoke in bed.

b) Do not store any flammable substance or any volatile liquid in the kitchen. Cover the flammable container tightly.

c) Extinguish all live charcoals and embers or concentrate them in the middle of the stove after being through with kitchen chores. Make it a habit to inspect the kitchen before retiring. Most fires in the home occur at night.

d) Keep lighters away from children’s reach.

e) Clear the corners and nook of the house from rubbish, rags and other waste materials.

f) Remove the accumulation of leaves in gutters and other parts of the roof and wood shaving and litters in the attic.

g) Quantities of flammables, such as gasoline, oil benzene, naptha, alcohol, and other highly flammable materials should be kept in dwelling houses.

h) Rubbish burning should be done on the stove or in the yard away from the house wall. Every smoldering coal left from the bonfire should be extinguished. Be careful that no lying embers from bonfire would alight on the roof of the houses. (Better yet, listen to environmentalists and quit burning trash altogether, the smoke is hazardous to the environment and our health).

i) Do not use open flames for decorations.

j) Combustible objects, such as firewoods, waste paper and rugs should not be indiscriminately dumped or strewn in the house. Boxes should be regularly cleaned.

k) Kerosene and oil stoves should be checked to leakage and they should be regularly cleaned.

l) Do not use leaking liquefied petroleum gas equipment.

Emergency Action: Burns

Small Heat Burns

  1. Remove clothing if not stuck.
  2. Immerse burned area in lukewarm water or apply cold pack (never use ice) unless skin is open or blistered.
  3. Cover burn with sterile or clean dressing.

Major Heat Burns

  1. Call for emergency help (usually 117) or rush victim to hospital.
  2. DO NOT remove clothing, DO NOT immerse burn in cold water.
  3. Cover burn with clean material; keep victim warm, elevate burned feet or legs.
  4. If not breathing, give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation: tilt-lift chin, pinch nose shut, seals mouth with yours, give 2 full breaths. Repeat: 1 breath each 5 seconds.

Chemical Burns

  1. PROMPTLY call for emergency aid, or rush to hospital immediately.
  2. If chemical container is nearby, obey first aid steps on it. Keep it to show to the hospital personnel.
  3. Until help arrives, remove clothing from burn and flood burn with water. DOCTORS SHOULD SEE ALL BURNS.

March may be Fire Prevention Month but the info above are definitely worth remembering 365 days of the year.

[1]An Act Establishing A Comprehensive Fire Code Of The Philippines, Repealing Presidential Decree No. 1185 And For Other Purposes”, December 19, 2008.


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