Fire equipment, not building height is the issue
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Freeman) - January 11, 2018 - 12:00am

Talk about being bright in hindsight, but the Facebook page came up with that news report that Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is suggesting that we should limit our building height because of the fire that gutted the Metro Ayala Department. I don't know why this issue crossed the Mayor's mind when the Metro Ayala was only six-storey's high? In short the problems besetting the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFD) was a lack of oxygen masks so they could enter a smoke-filled building and fight the fire right on its source.

Mind you the issue of building height were thoroughly discussed when the MetroBank Building along Osmeña Blvd had problems during an earthquake when it was under construction. Back then the issue focused on the fact that our fire ladders could reach only a height of a 10-storey building. However those building height issues were debated long ago by Fire officials in New York City and Chicago and I'm sure that those same issues were brought forth when they constructed the world's tallest building, the BurjKhalifa in Dubai. In fact just across it is the World's tallest residential building the Torch Tower just across the man-made lake of the BurjKhalifa.

Last June, the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in London burned killing 71 people… but the aftermath debate did not focus on limiting building height, but rather how to made buildings safer. Indeed, what Mayor Osmeña ought to focus on is not to limit building height but how to make buildings safer and more importantly… to focus on giving our firefighters oxygen with face masks so they could enter a burning building and fight the fire on its source.

Let me point out clearly that the City of Cebu has very limited flat areas because most of our land is mountainous. With land prices skyrocketing, there is nowhere else to go but up… and that means high-rise structures. But where the fire ladders can't go, can be taken cared of with water pipes, which can help fire fighters go to floors where the ladders can't reach.

Finally, allow me to recall the time when then Mayor Osmeña, Sammy Darza and I went to receive the Kaohsiung Buses. One Kaohsiung official called Sammy and me that they were going to give us a Ladder truck build in Florida, USA that could reach 10-storeys high. We were so excited to see this behemoth, until Sammy pointed to me its gross weight, which was 20 tons.  Back then; all the bridges in Cebu City only had a load limit of 10 tons. So if we accepted that Ladder truck, it would have been totally useless for the Fire Department to use.

Hopefully this article should end the debate on limiting building height just because our Fire Ladders cannot reach the height of our present buildings. But it is good to go into this exercise so that our Millennials would know that this issue was thoroughly discussed long before they were born!

***

Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Martin Andanar apparently revealed that while the nation awaits a 3rd player for the Telecom Industry to compete with Globe Telecom and PLDT, aside from China Telecom which have been invited by Malacañang to join the Philippine Telecom industry, they now have another Telecom player, this time the Philippine Telegraph and Telephone, Corp. (PT&T) is in talks with a Telecom company from South Korea. This should be an interesting addition to solve our Internet speed woes.

But gauging on Globe Telecom's advertisements, which actually blames the Local Government Unit (LGUs) for the delays in the approval of Telecom cellsites, which is a problem that I'm sure that PLDT is also having, then even if we have the 3rd or even a 4th Telecom player in the country, they too would have to pass through the same tedious process in order for them to install their cellsites. That means our Internet Speeds would remain the same until these cellsites of the new competitors are installed.

If you ask me, Japan did things better…. They made all Telecoms owners of all cellsites so in the end they have fewer cellsites to clutter the environment and this makes them compete in the Telco market with no issues on Internet speeds. Perhaps the DICT ought to look at how they did things in Japan, which is a good idea.

vsbobita@mozcom.com

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