This firefighter volunteer shares tips and what to do when there is a fire outbreak

Jerwin Guan didn’t know that firefighter volunteer groups existed until his restaurant caught fire last 1996. “Aside from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), fire volunteers were the ones who helped in making sure that our family’s restaurant didn’t burn down. I am very thankful to those who risked their lives and resources for others, that’s why I joined and became a fire volunteer myself in Manila. I was blessed to purchase an old fire truck which we refurbished. This is how Golden Fire & Rescue Volunteer Unit started in 2006.”

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With more than two decades of paying it forward, Jerwin has stepped back as fire chief of operations but is still the president of the unit. He was one of those who responded that night in the effort to save the Yu family and stop the fire from burning down the house last March 20.

“In a fire, every second counts that’s why it’s best to call right away. What happened was we only received the alert almost at 2 a.m. and based on what we learned, the fire started at 1:30 am,” he tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle.

“I just came home from that fire feeling very down. Then I heard that five perished. Our fire fighters only saw two (bodies) and the other one was charred already,” he divulges. “Hiyang hiya ako sa family ng survivors na nasa tabi ng fire truck namin, kasi we weren’t able to save kahit isa man lang (I was so ashamed to face the family of the survivors who were beside our fire truck, because we weren’t able to save even one).”

This news was all over the next day, with many of his friends and relatives asking sending him messages asking what could have been the cause of this unfortunate fire. Whatever the reason was, Guan shared these easy fire prevention tips:

  1. Unused appliances should be unplugged.
  2. Do not charge gadgets overnight.
  3. Make sure that electric and gas stove are properly turned off.
  4. LPG tanks are also turned off. Make sure that there is proper ventilation so that just in case there is a leak, the methane can be released and won’t get compressed in an enclosed area, resulting to an explosion.
  5. Do not let kids play with matches, lighters, candles. This is what happened to our restaurant before. It started with our neighbor’s kid playing with matches.
  6. Have a working fire extinguisher ready at all times and make sure that you know how to properly use it.
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Here’s how to use it:
1. Pull the pin of the fire extinguisher.
2. Aim the nozzle of the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire.
3. Squeeze the lever/trigger to release chemicals.
4. Sweeping motion when spraying toward the fire.

If fire is uncontrollable, Guan stressed the importance of calling the Association of Phil. Volunteer Fire Brigades Inc. at 85222-2222. “Make sure everyone leaves the house. Don’t even think of going back to save anything especially if the fire is big already.”

It is also good that the family members know where to meet outside so they can do a headcount if everyone was able to go out of the house, safe and away from the burning structure.

Fire or emergency exits should also be accessible and not obstructed. “Smoke detectors should be properly installed so that the alarm will ring as soon as it detects fire that is burning while we are asleep,” Guan ends.

Source: Manila Bulletin (