FO2 NOVIE DAGCUTA OF CCFO

How a female teacher became a firefighter in Cebu City

By: Pegeen Maisie M. Sararaña - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | March 27,2022 - 10:00 AM
FO1 Novie Dagcuta, woman firefighter or one of the women firefighters of the CCFO. In photo is FO1 Novie Dagcuta responding with other CCFO firefighters to a fire in Cebu City.

Fire Officer (FO2) Novie Dagcuta of the Cebu City Fire Office (CCFO) together with her fellow firefighters prepares to battle a fire in Cebu City. | Contributed photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — It must have been fate.

That was one way to describe how Fire Officer 2 (FO2) Novie Dagcuta found herself in the male-dominated business of putting out fires and saving lives.

Dagcuta, 32, was waiting to be accepted for that teaching job in 2015, and on a whim, she also applied to become a firefighter.

A few weeks later, Dagcuta, who was desperate to find a job, did receive a letter, but it was not the one that she expected because it was a letter informing her to undergo training as a firefighter.

And without hesitation, she informed her parents that she would take the offer.

Her parents were not completely sold to the idea of her being a firefighter, but they respected her decision and went along with it. Her close friends, however, were a different thing as they flatly objected to her decision, seeing that a firefighter’s job was a dangerous one, and that she was after all a woman and a “kikay” one at that.

But Dagcuta stood firm on her decision and showed up at the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) training, and, for her, the rest is history.

Dagcuta said that was seven years ago in 2015, which was a year after she passed the Licensure Examinations for Teachers (LET), and two years after she graduated from college.

But getting to where she is today was not a cake walk, especially that the firefighting job is a male-dominated business, and aside from that, the  job was not only risky but was also physically demanding.

But she persevered since she showed up in 2015 for her 45 days of orientation as a firefighter, monthlong on the job training, and four months of basic training.

“Dugay pod ko nakafield. Desk job lang ko sa Cebu City Fire Office for three years,” said Dagcuta, who is a Cebu City resident.

(It took me a while to be on the field. I was doing a desk job for the Cebu City Fire Office for three years [before they let me go on the field, responding to fire alarms].)

WOMAN FIREFIGHTER OF CCFO. FO1 Novie Dagcuta, woman firefighter of the CCFO, says that she has learned to love the job as a firefighter, embracing its risks and challenges. Photo courtesy of BFP R7 Cebu City Fire Office Facebook page (file photo)

FO1 Novie Dagcuta says that she has learned to love the job as a firefighter, embracing its risks and challenges. Photo courtesy of BFP R7 Cebu City Fire Office Facebook page (file photo)

But then as the years working in the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) passed by, she came to understand and love the job.

“Di na ko mobalik pagapply pagkateacher kay nakita ko na lifelong na ni ang akong pagkafirefighter,” said Dagcuta.

(I won’t apply to become a teacher anymore because I see my job as a firefighter as a lifelong one for me.)

The job, however, is dangerous and she cited one instance where it really got hairy for her and the other firefighters.

She was referring to the November 26, 2021 residential fire in Sitio Lawis, Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City where their hoses went dry in the middle of fighting a fire.

“Dako na kaayo. Tapos kami tanan nagtagsa namig hose nga gidala. Pagabot sa sulod nahutdan pa mig tubig unya zero visibility,” the woman firefighter of the CCFO said.

(The fire was already so big. Then all of us were already holding our hoses that we brought in the area of the fire. Then as we reached the fire scene and was battling the fire, our hoses suddenly did not have any water in it, and it was already zero visibility there.)

Asked how they managed to get out of that situation, she said that she trusted her fellow firefighters and their training. 

She said that she and the other firefighters there dropped to the ground so that they could breathe and waited for their hoses to have water again.

Minutes later, their hoses were again filled with water, and they continued battling the fire.

mambaling

A raging fire is seen in this November 26, 2021 photo of the Sitio Lawis, Barangay Mambaling fire, where nearly a thousand houses were destroyed , affecting an estimated 5,000 individuals  in the area. | Contributed photo (file photo)

According to the Cebu City Fire Department in their report, it took them two hours to put out the fire, which destroyed 995 houses in the area.

The fire also affected an estimated 5,000 individuals living in the area.

READ: Rama: Release financial assistance to Mambaling fire victims in 3 days 

This is the aftermath of the fire that hit Sitio Lawis in barangay Mambaling on on November 26, 2021. This photo was taken on November 27, 2021. | CDN Digital file photo

The hairy experience did not deter Dagcuta from firefighting. It even hardened her resolve to stay on as a firefighter, accepting the risks and loving the work.

Aside from that, she has also learned to balance her personal and work lives. 

She said firefighters at the Cebu City Fire Office were given a week off after a week being on duty.

Dagcuta also has this to say to other women, who aspire to become firefighters or those women, who plan to enter a male-dominated industry, to persevere so that their voices will be heard, so that they can survive, grow, and succeed in their chosen fields.

She also encouraged them to stand true to their decisions, especially if it involved their jobs, and not to let other voices stop them from following the path that they had chosen.

According to the Bureau of Fire Protection in Central Visayas (BFP-7), as of March 2022, it has 541 female personnel deployed in the different fields of the bureau such as firefighting, special rescue, emergency and medical services, and investigation among others.

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TAGS: CCFO, Cebu‬, Cebu City Fire office, Cebu Daily News, cebu news, female firefighters, FO1 Novie Dagcuta, Mambaling, one of women firefighters in CCFO, Sitio Lawis, woman firefighter

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