The Republic of the Philippines is a sovereign state in South-East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. Its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and its tropical climate make the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons but has also endowed the country with natural resources and made it one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world.
During the last two years the Philippines has been hit exceptionally hard by natural disasters which have included earthquakes, tsunami, typhoons and mud slides. Lack of preparedness has cost dearly in loss of life and property and the recovery phase of these incidents has been painfully slow.
Davao Fire Fighters and Rescue Services (DFRS)
Back in November 2011, Caffra were approached by Richard Fernandez JR, leader of Davao Fire Fighters and Rescue Services (DFRS). Richard was born in abject and Dickensian poverty that is rarely seen in modern Europe. He therefore supplemented his existence as a child by wading through toxic rubbish dumps searching for used cans and bottles, worth 1/2p per item. Richard went on to gain an above average education, through a Catholic Priest, and then became a ship’s cook to support his family. Amazingly, he went further and formed DFRS.
When Richard approached us, along with Neville Cresdee, he and his team had put together a folder bursting with information about him and his team. The team consisted of just 7 members, which included Richard, his Father and Brother and now 12 years later, there are 43 volunteer members.
The DFRS team have made many successful rescues but have also had to live with the pain and trauma of loss of life, including child fire victims. DFRS work in the poor area of Davao City where home for many is just a lean-to covered with a tarpaulin or canvas and these shanty homes are subject to many fires during high summer. Like all firefighters, worldwide, they never know if they are coming home after a fire and knowingly lay down their lives for their neighbour with every fire call.
It became apparent to us that members of the DFRS team were firefighting in normal clothes and flip flops as they had no PPE to protect themselves. Caffra now regularly sends a shipment of Fire and Rescue equipment which is suitable for their current weather season. Caffra has provided all members of DFRS with a Fire Fighters Tunic, Overtrousers, Gloves and Boots.
DFRS’s transport to any incident is their Humvee vehicle but due to its age, often needs mechanical repairs. This sometimes prevents them from going to incidents including risk to life. Jesmond Methodist Church and its members managed to raise £750.00 to complete the work on their Humvee which allows them to continue to make a difference.
In March 2013, Caffra visited the Philippines to carry out a comprehensive scoping visit and were able to see the level of assistance they are in need off. Many areas of Civil Protection, especially in poorer communities, are severely lacking and Caffra has developed a Philippines project plan. With hard work, determination and the necessary funding we feel that issues can be resolved.