TADEO The model fireman
He wanted to be a policeman and never even once dreamt of becoming a firefighter.
But Senior Superintendent Samuel Tadeo, current director of the Bureau of Fire Protection in Central Visayas (BFP-7), ended up as one after graduating from training in 1988.
At that time, the young Tadeo was left with no choice, after officials randomly selected half of his class to become part of the BFP.
To his superiors, it did not matter that Tadeo was excited to be a policeman and joined the training hoping to become one.
“Hindi ‘yun nangyari kasi parang hinati kami so sinabihan lang kami na ‘o, kayo sa police kayo at ‘yung sa kabila sa fire naman (It did not happen because the class was just split in half and we were told one would go to the police while the other to the fire bureau),” Tadeo recalled adding that he did not know what to feel when he was ordered to join the BFP.
“Wala na akong nagawa noon. Kaya sinunod ko nalang. Total pag-serbisyo din naman ‘yung pinasukan ko (I did not have any choice then so I just followed the order. Anyway, it was still part of the service),” said Tadeo.
But while being a fireman was not part of his plans, Tadeo had no regrets after learning to love the job.
“Iba ‘yung feeling eh na naka -save ka ng properties at saka buhay ng tao (It’s a different feeling when you are able to save properties and people’s lives),” said Tadeo.
Today, he is not just your ordinary fireman, but a multi-awarded and celebrated one at that.
Besting officials from other government agencies, Tadeo won the coveted Dangal ng Bayan Award 2018 given by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).
“I was surprised. Happy and grateful,” said Tadeo after learning that he was among the regional winners of the prestigious award.
‘Dangal ng Bayan Award,’ also known as the Honor Awards Program (HAP), is CSC’s search for outstanding government workers.
The awards ceremony was part of the nationwide celebration of the 118th Philippine Civil Service Anniversary last September 13.
“Entire Philippines to so maraming pinagpilian. Maraming na-reject. At maswerte tayo, na isa tayo sa mga napili (Since the search was for the entire Philippines, there were a lot of choices. Some were rejected. And we were just lucky enough to be one of those chosen),” a shy Tadeo said in an interview with Cebu Daily News.
Tadeo was accompanied by his wife, Zenny, when he received the award at the social hall of the Cebu Provincial Capitol.
For Tadeo, the recognition validated that he had somehow fulfilled his visions for BFP-7.
He said that he had his subordinates to thank for without their help, he would not have succeeded.
“’Di na man kami naghahangad na bigyan ng award. Napansin lang siguro ‘yung mga accomplishments natin (I really did not expect any award.
Maybe the commission just really noticed our accomplishments),” he added.
While Tadeo was happy with his civil service award, he hoped that someday, the public — and not just the CSC — would recognize the hard work of BFP.
The head of the fire bureau in the region lamented how the public continued to perceive them as inept especially during fires.
“May mga perception pa rin ’yung mga tao na hindi kami nakakatulong sa kanila (People still have this perception that we are not helping them.),” said Tadeo.
Tadeo said that when he took the helm of BFP-7 two years ago, he immediately noticed a lack of personnel and equipment.
At least 20 towns in the region did not have fire stations.
“Marami talagang walang mga fire stations at saka fire trucks. Nag-focus talaga kami na magkaroon ng mga fire stations (There were really a lot of areas without fire stations and fire trucks. We really focused on having fire stations),” said Tadeo.
Immediately, he worked to increase BFP-7 personnel by recruitment and found ways to obtain more equipment.
After two years, only 8 towns in Central Visayas currently remain to have no fire stations.
“’Yun ‘yung pinaka-purpose natin. Malagyan lahat ng fire stations ‘yung lugar natin (That was our ultimate purpose. To have fire stations in all areas of our jurisdiction),” said Tadeo.
Aside from the lack of fire stations and equipment, he also noticed that BFP-7’s collections pertaining to fire safety inspections were very low.
This was because not all BFP-7 personnel, including fire inspectors, were equipped to inspect buildings and other properties.
“’Yung inspector natin noon ’di talaga marunong, parang bihira lang yung may alam sa fire inspection. Kaya siguro mababa ‘yung collection (Our inspectors before were not very knowledgable about fire inspections),” said Tadeo.
After learning of the situation, Tadeo asked the help of the national BFP headquarters for the conduct of a 6-month seminar in the region by fire inspection experts.
The training of BFP-7 personnel resulted to a 148 percent increase in BFP-7 collections.
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