‘Don’t harass firemen!’
Firing incident during battle to put out Duljo-Fatima blaze prompts fire chief’s appeal
Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP-7) Regional Director Samuel Tadeo appealed to the public to not harass firefighters, who are just trying to do their jobs.
The appeal came in the heels of reports that shots were fired purportedly to draw the attention of firemen to a burning house while they were still frantically trying to put out a raging blaze in another section of Barangay Duljo Fatima at midnight on Thursday.
Tadeo also said the firefighters also endured scolding and shouting from residents while some even tried to grab the hoses away from the firemen.
“I understand because they just showed natural reaction. But instead of being violent, people should help our firefighters as they try their best to save your houses,” Tadeo told Cebu Daily News.
The firing incident was reported by fire volunteers from Barangays Ermita and Kamputhaw to Nagiel Bañacia, Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head, prompting him to call for police personnel to help secure the area.
“What we suspect is that he was shooting at the glass windows of his house so that it will be shattered and that the firefighters can spray water on his burning house. But it was disturbing since just beside his house, there were fire volunteers from Ermita trying to put out the fire,” Bañacia said.
Bañacia said he did not witness the incident, but it was reported to him by the volunteers.
He also said that responders from the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (Eruf) were able to take a video where three gunshots were heard.
Bañacia said some of the volunteers got scared because of the incident, fearing that they would be hit by stray bullets.
When he returned with some police personnel, Bañacia said they couldn’t find the man who fired the shots.
This prompted Bañacia to warn the residents in the area to stop threatening the fire volunteers and other fire responders or they would pull out of the area.
“I experienced this in previous fires that we’ve responded. In thickly populated areas, people really want that their houses to be sprayed with water first,” he said.
Shoot them, too
Sought for comment on the incident, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said the man who fired the gunshots should be arrested.
He even threatened that those who do so should be shot.
“We will find them and we will shoot them. I’m not kidding. Di ko modawat ana (I will not accept that). They’ll make good target practice,” he said in his press conference.
“If they take out their gun and shoot, then we will take out our gun and shoot also,” he added.
But the BFP-7 had no plans of filing charges against the residents involved in the pandemonium, as no fireman was hurt.
“They (firefighters) have also undergone trainings and seminars on how to handle situations like that,” Tadeo added.
The fire in Duljo-Fatima, according to BFP, was one of the biggest for the year 2016.
“We still have a month to go before December ends, but we can already consider it as one of the major fires since it reached Task Force Alpha where firetrucks from neighboring towns were called on to respond,” said Roy Maratas, chief of the BFP-7 investigation department.
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