School building in CDO has exposed electrical wires, says task force

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/15 July) — One classroom building at the East City Central School in Barangay Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City was found to have exposed electrical wire connections which could possibly endanger students, a multi-agency task force today said.

The task force led by the Office of Civil Defense and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Northern Mindanao said the exposed electrical wires found on the roof and walls of 17 classrooms pose a danger to the kindergarten students, with ages between five and six years old.

The inspection came after a magnitude 5.2 quake jolted this city and other parts of Mindanao at 9:28am today.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the earthquake’s epicenter was located 14 kilometers northeast of Carmen town in North Cotabato and had a depth of 2 kilometers.

No damage was reported as a result of the temblor which was tectonic in origin.

At 11:51am, another quake occurred 12 km northeast of Carmen with a magnitude of 4.1. Still another one struck at 2:41pm seven kilometers northwest of the town with a magnitude of 3.4, Phivolcs said. [See separate story]

“These loose electrical wires can start a fire in case a stronger earthquake hits our city,” Marcial Labininay, head of the Phivolcs station in Cagayan de Oro station, said.

Aside from exposed wires, Luiben Magto of the Cagayan de Oro Office of the Building Official found that only a 60-ampere safety fuse was mounted on the circuit breaker of the school building.

Both the safety fuse and circuit breakers protect against overloading of electricity flow once it exceeds safe levels.

“With this kind of school building with all the lights, electrical fans and airconditioners, the safety fuse that should be used is about 200 amperes to take on that load,” Magto said.

The school building is of the pre-fab type which became popular during the Marcos administration. It is already scheduled for demolition but Department of Education (DepEd) officials delayed it pending the arrival of funds for the construction of its replacement.

Senior Fire Officer 1 Sam Velarde of the Bureau of Fire Protection said the old electrical plan submitted by DepED only covered the electrical lights in the classrooms but as the years passed, more appliances have been used by the teachers and students.

“The teachers and the parents would decide to add electrical fans or lights without bothering to check whether the safety breaker can handle the additional electrical load. This is usually the problem,” Velarde said.

He said a major alteration made on the pre-fab building was the conversion of a part of it into a canteen.

He said the canteen had five or six more appliances attached to the electrical connection adding to its overload.

DepEd supervisor John Mingo said the old pre-fab school building should have been demolished long ago after it reached over 30 years, but the lack of money prevented the agency from carrying out the plan.

“Where will the students go? We do not have enough classrooms. The old school building was better than nothing,” Mingo said.

He said if they have the money, they would have built newer schools because its designs have incorporated safety features on its electrical fixtures.

Roger Lapera, of the NDRMMC Regional Safety Inspection team said the task force composed of government agencies and NGOs will conduct inspections at the Cagayan de Oro National High School and the public markets in the city’s Cogon and Carmen districts.

“We are checking the integrity of these buildings if they can withstand earthquakes. We are also checking if the school principal and market administrators have an emergency evacuation plans,” he said.

Lapera said evacuation plans are very important for Cogon and Carmen public market buildings since these have “high density of occupancy.”

“We do not want vendors scrambling around not knowing where to go in case an earthquake occurs or a bomb explodes in one of these buildings,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)