The 104-year-old Sta. Mesa Fire Station building faces challenges in extinguishing its possible demolition, in adherence with the modernization project, safety concerns, and road widening.
BFP modernization program
The Sta. Mesa fire station demolition and reconstruction pursuant is rooted in the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) modernization program, which will be applied in different fire stations across the country.
The BFP aims to uniformly redesign the fire stations under the agency.
Another vital factor in the modernization program is the safety of the fire station workers, especially with the ongoing threat of ‘The Big One.’
“Noong ginagawa ang sa Skyway po, ‘yung overpass, grabe ang pagyanig dito, pag-uga noong istasyon, paano po tayo makakapagserbisyo kung mismong fire station po natin is hindi na safe para sa mga tao nation.”Sta. Mesa Fire Station Acting Sub Station Commander SFO3 Ronald Pasahol stated.
Road widening project
Fire Superintendent Emmanuel Ricafort, Chief of BFP-NCR’s Logistics Division said that the Sta. Mesa Fire Station will be affected by the road widening project along Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard.
The national road project will own more than half of the fire station’s lot area. The Ramon Magsaysay Blvd. road widening will consume 220 square meters of the fire station from its 335 sqm site.
The said dilemma pushed for pursuing the building’s demolition and reconstruction.
Cultural groups’ disapproval
Renacimiento Manila President Diego Gabriel Torres pleaded to halt the demolition plans because of the rich history and artifacts inside the Sta. Mesa fire station.
The cultural organization president said that there is nothing wrong in providing new facilities and equipment however, the ‘treasures’ inside it should be preserved.
“Mahalaga rin ito para maunawaan ng mga Filipino kung paano ba iyong pag-unlad in terms of sa story ng firefighters and firefighting sa Pilipinas,” Torres said.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) also submitted a letter questioning the Manila Local Government Unit (LGU) regarding the approval of Sta. Mesa fire station’s demolition.
NHCP Chairman Dr. Emmanuel Franco Calairo cited that the demolition project violates RA 10066 or the National Heritage Law of 2009.
“structures dating 50 years old and above should be protected from any modification or demolition. In this regard, the 1919 structure is immediately considered as Important Cultural Property (ICP),” stated in the letter.
Sta. Mesa Fire Station was built in 1919 during the American occupation of the country. The said centennial establishment survived the bombings during World War 2, wherein half of the city was devastated.
The demolition is currently on hold, as the Manila City government is extinguishing the heated arguments between the BFP and the cultural groups.
The said LGU is conducting its review on whether to continue issuing the demolition permit or accepting the ICP distinction.