Safety of Boarding Houses Reviewed
June 6, 2015
BAGUIO CITY – The present state of student boarding houses in the city may trigger a revision of the minimum safety and sanitation standards for such establishments to make them realistic and in tune with the times.
This developed as reports from the members of the boarding house inspection composite team on the conditions of these establishments showed the need for the updating of the old ordinance regulating the operation of these businesses and for the revision of the standards based on the present day scenarios.
Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda said that if the provisions of the old ordinance or even the present National Building and Fire Safety Codes will be imposed particularly on the three-square-meter-per-person “air space” requirement alone, a considerable number of lodging houses will have to be closed for violations. And if the City will insist that owners comply with the requirements on the provision of enough air space, study hall, reception area and bathroom for every ten persons, among other requirements, students will have to contend with exorbitant rent.
Tabanda said both options cannot just be done considering the plight of the students.
Engr. Candido Delos Santos of the city health service office said this matter has been brought up before and they compromised that for as long the boardinghouse is safe and sanitary — with fire safety apparatus, fire exits and clean rooms and not overcrowded – then it will pass the inspection.
Tabanda then asked the composite team composed of departments concerned with safety, sanitation and security to submit minimum safety and sanitation standards that are reasonable and realistic for consideration in revising the ordinance.
She also asked the team to review the procedures in the grant of business permits to these establishments to ensure that they are strictly complying with the requirements.
Licensing officer Braille Van Reyes said there are 3,590 boarding houses and four dormitories issued permits this year and they are all presumed to have passed the fire and building safety requirements.
Sr. Insp. Nestor Gorio of the Bureau of Fire Protection said the usual violations noted among these establishments are the fire exits which are usually blocked, lack of fire-fighting appliance, alarm, emergency lights and evacuation plan.
He also aired concern over the permanent window grills installed and the lack of back meant to secure the premises against burglars but can hamper escape during fires.
He said they can only recommend to owners not to make these fixtures permanent. He said he will write the council to pass an ordinance to prohibit the installation of these permanent fixtures especially among business establishments for fire safety.
Delos Santos said their common observations during inspections are overcrowding, lack of ventilation and the coed occupancy of rooms.
Policarpio Cambod of the public order and safety division brought up the need for big dormitories to install CCTVs and employ security guards.
Councilor Lilia Yaranon said owners should impose curfew and limited visiting time. She said the composite team should conduct a year-round inspection of these establishments.
Councilor Joel Alangsab said the team should conduct a synchronized inspection to make it more effective./A Refuerzo