Volunteer firefighter shares ways people can help during fire incidents

BOIDALE Volunteer Fire Brigade Inc.
Volunteer firefighter assists a water bucket relay initiated by fire victims. Photo from Martina Joyce Torres.

A volunteer firefighter from the BOIDALE Volunteer Fire Brigade Inc. who helped put out the recent Sta. Mesa, Manila fire recommends ways for people at fire scenes to help put out fires.

Andrew Tenedero’s brigade was among the early responders at the fire that ravaged a residential area on Sunday night, August 21, 2022, which lasted until early Monday morning. Tenedero’s team worked with local residents in a Bayanihan water bucket relay that helped extinguish the fire.

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While other trucks were already pulling out around midnight, the BOIDALE brigade stayed on at the fire scene because their truck was among those controlling the fire and their water supply was coming from the Bayanihan bucket relay.

WHEN FIRETRUCKS RESPOND

In an interview with Good News Pilipinas, the volunteer firefighter explained what happens during a fire alarm.

Tenedero says that a plan of action depends on the order of the teams’ arrival. “Iba’t ibang klase ang sunog at iba-ibang klase rin ang pag-dating mo sa fire scene. Kung first arrival ka, ang unang gagawin mo ay kukunin ang hose na uno media para mag-apula ng sunog. Kapag hindi ka naman first arrival, ang una mong pupuntahan ay ang nasa unahan na fire truck at tatanungin kung kailangan ba nila ng supply,” the volunteer firefighter said.

(There are different types of fire and firetrucks arrive in different ways at a fire scene. If you arrive first, the first thing you do is to get the 1 ½ hose to extinguish the fire. If you do not arrive first, the first place you go to is the first arrival truck and ask if they need water supply)

When asked about how they deal with people at fire scenes, he said that the firefighters’ main concern is to put out the fire. It’s the barangay officials who should handle crowd control such as directing victims and residents away from the scene and where they should evacuate.

WHEN PEOPLE WANT TO HELP

The BOIDALE volunteer shared that the water bucket relay that happened in Sta. Mesa was not the first time he witnessed such a display of Bayanihan spirit among residents.

“Hindi lang isa, hindi lang dalawang beses ko naranasan ang pagba-bucket relay ng mga tao lalo na sa sunog. Ang bucket relay ay nagaganap kapag shortage of water, lalo na kung ang hydrant ay mahina o wala nang supply ng tubig,” Tenedero told this writer.

(It was not my first or second time to witness a water bucket relay among people, especially at fire scenes. A bucket relay happens when there’s a shortage of water, more so when the hydrant’s supply is low or entirely out.)

  • Directions to local water supply

“Since ang mga bumbero ay hindi alam ang pasikot sikot sa fire scene, ang mga tao mismo ang lalapit sa kanila at magsasabing ‘dito po mayroong malapit na source of water pero hindi kayang gamitan ng hose,” the firefighter said.

(Since firefighters are not familiar with the area of the fire scene, residents themselves come to us and say ‘there’s a nearby source of water but it cannot be accessed with the hose’)

“Doon papasok ang tinatawag na bucket relay, doon magbabayanihan ang mga tao doon para matugunan nila ang pangangailangan ng fire truck,” he added.

(That is when a so-called bucket relay happens, that’s when people will practice their Bayanihan to supply what the fire truck needs.)

Tenedero shared that barangays are required to train their people how to do a proper bucket relay since they could use this if a fire truck has not arrived.

  • Clearing the way for firefighters

The volunteer firefighter said that the best thing residents could do is to clear the area despite the panic and chaos during these emergencies. “Ang pinaka-magandang gawin ng mga residente ay i-clear ang area na papasukan at dadaanan ng fire truck at mga volunteer para mabilis na ma-latag ang hose, mabilis na mapuntahan ang sunog,” the volunteer explained.

(The best thing for residents to do is to clear the way for fire trucks to enter the area to allow for faster laying out of fire hoses, and get to the fire sooner.)

  • Working with local government

He reiterated the duty of the area’s Local Government Unit (LGU). “Kailangan ng mga LGUs ng barangay para ang mga tao ay hindi patakbo-takbo doon at paharang-harang dito, minsan ay naaapakan na nila yung hose at hindi mahila kaagad.”

(LGUs of the barangay need to ensure that people will not run all over the place and block the way. People sometimes step on the fire hoses which causes delay.)

Tenedero reminds people at fire scenes to follow authorities. “Patience at sumunod sa LGUs nila kung ano ang sinasabi at huwag na huwag mang-aagaw ng hose o ‘di kaya ay magbanta sa firefighter,” he pleads.

(Have patience and follow what their LGUs are telling them to do and never take the hose from the firefighters or threaten the firefighters.)

  • Kindness towards firefighter volunteers

The volunteer recalled his experience when a fire victim threatened him not to abandon his burning house and added, “Hindi naman nila kailangan na maging marahas sa volunteer dahil tumutulong lang din kami.”

(They do not need to be violent towards volunteers because we are just helping.)

Volunteers such as Andrew Tenedero and his fire brigade are underappreciated for the modern heroism they are doing. They risk their health, safety, and entire lives to help victims of disasters all for free and ask nothing in return.

Nowhere to Go But UP Foundation’s Renan Dalisay said it better: “There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer”, referring to Filipinos who stepped up to help in times of disasters such as the Taal Volcano eruption.

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Martina is an explorer, a film buff, and an avid pageant fan. She is majoring in Communication to one day work in journalism or a production house to tell stories about life, society, and scenic places. She is also an environmental conservation advocate and firmly believes in humankind’s role as the planet’s caretakers.