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Firemen = P12,400 ($270 a month)
« on: June 10, 2007, 07:38:56 AM »
By CECILLE SUERTE FELIPE
The Philippine Star

Filipino firemen put their lives on the line for a pittance.

Like many policemen and soldiers, most of the country’s 16,000 firemen live in poverty and reside in shanties due to their meager income.

Senior Fire Officer 1 Walfredo Hernandez, who lives in a makeshift house at the back of the fire station in Parañaque City, has been in the service for more than 20 years.

Hernandez said the land is owned by the city government and he and other firemen who live there do not have security of tenure and could be evicted anytime.

He receives a monthly salary of P12,400 plus allowances of at least P3,500, including hazard pay of P120, P77.50 in incentives, P60 laundry allowance and P200 clothing allowance. However, he only brings home P1,500 every 15 days due to various deductions.
Hernandez has two children in college.

Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) spokesman Chief Inspector Renato Marcial said Hernandez is just one of many firemen who do not have their own home. He said 80 percent of 16,000 firemen live in poverty.

“At least the government and the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership are working to give policemen decent homes. I wish we had that, too,” Marcial told The STAR.

According to an October 2006 survey of the PNP, only 51,266 police officers or 51 percent of the 118,714-strong police force have their own houses while 59 percent are classified as informal settlers.

PNP chief Director General Oscar Calderon has been working with government housing agencies to establish low-cost housing for policemen nationwide.

Firemen not only live in poverty, they also do their jobs with practically only the clothes on their backs for protection.

Based on BFP records in 2006, there are a total of 15,093 BFP personnel nationwide, with 11,689 actually assigned in firefighting units. Most of them have to share fire coats, boots, helmets, gloves and trousers with suspenders – basic gear every firefighter should have.

The BFP only has 3,742 coats and 3,214 pairs of fire boots nationwide for all its firefighters. In the National Capital Region, there are 2,229 firemen but only 360 coats and not a pair of fire boots among them.

The BFP only has 4,731 fire helmets, 1,324 fire gloves and not a single pair of fire-retardant trousers with suspenders. 

To be able to completely equip each fireman, the BFP said it needs over P300 million.

While the BFP requires 2,922 firetrucks, there are only 105 existing units and the bureau needs more than P600 million to purchase 2,817 vehicles.

From March 1 to 13 this year, the BFP recorded 97 fire incidents with one fatality and P16.8 million in property damage compared to the same period last year in which there were 112 incidents, 11 deaths and P51 million in damaged property.

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