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FIRING LINE: Risky fire safety training

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

“Stay at home” has been this pandemic year’s battle cry in keeping the novel coronavirus at bay. Effectively so, keeping the family in the safest confines and forbidding congregation have counteracted the aggressive nature of this contagion.

Otherwise, the spreading of the disease would have reached levels unmanageable for government, for communities, for the medical sector – to the point of chaos and pandemonium.

However, staying alive is not only dependent on staying home. After months in lockdown, we as a people realized our family’s needs could not be met – even by the government’s best effort – if the economy is dead.

Many among us (at least one member per family) had to step forward with the frontliners to fulfill his/her duty to provide for the family; to contribute to the economy; to help the government even under the most precarious conditions.

What employees and business enterprises need right now is utmost support from the government to go about their jobs without the hassles that compound the strict protocols already in place under the “new normal”.

Take, for example, the requirement for annual fire safety training, which has become a risky and unnecessary endeavor required of businesses in these times.

For their sake and yours, I’m giving way to these words from a reader whose sentiments on behalf of businesses and their employees should be heard and heeded by leaders of government, particularly Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, the Bureau of Fire Protection, and the mayors…

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“The IATF, DILG, and DOH recommend limiting mass gatherings, more so, when gatherings are deemed non-essential – like training.

“Yet, companies are again being hard-pressed, under the penalty of the non-renewal of 2021 business permits. Companies must have their personnel undergo this yearly exercise on Fire Safety Awareness that costs money and is risky.

“Why can’t this yearly training be done online? Are there breakthrough processes in Fire Safety Awareness that happen each year? How many ways can the Bureau of Fire Protection preach and teach fire safety awareness? A permanent online class with modules on this subject is the way to move forward.

“If parts of government realize contactless engagement is the better and safer way, why not modify this (fire safety training) requirement to save people from exposure to COVID-19 while, at the same time, transform this training requirement so it costs less and is done in a virtual setting?

“Companies have cash flow concerns now and are in difficult survival mode due to the downtrend in business and economic activities. Hence, this training doesn’t only add to its cost of business but, more so, exposes the risk of suddenly having infections happen in their firms due to this non-essential mass gathering involving their personnel.

“This needs action and is worth changing, program-wise. Paging the BFP and DILG! Safety first. Train online. Save businesses from unnecessary costs and undue risks.”

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And, may I add, no more threats from fire safety inspectors of writing up a string of violations unless the business owner purchases fire extinguishers from their “favored supplier. *Wink! *Wink!

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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