Republic Act (RA) 6975 otherwise known as the Department of Interior and local Government (DILG) Act of 1990, an act where the Bureau of Fire Protection is thereby created in 1991 initially consisting of the existing officers and uniformed members of the Fire Service of the Integrated National Police (INP) as constituted under Presidential Decree (PD) No. 765. Every August of in a year from then onward, Bureau of Fire Protection celebrates its anniversary standing as an independent agency from the PC/INP.
The history of MFD started on August 7, 1901 when the United States – Philippine Commission organized then the Manila Fire Department, merely as part of the Department of Streets, Park, Fire and Sanitation. However, the present organization came into existence when it was separated from the former department. All equipment and apparatus relating to this distinct unit were turned over of F.R. Dodge as the appointed Department Chief and J.W. Hoey as his Assistant. After the resignation of F.R Dodge in the same year, Hugh Bonner, former Chief of New York City Fire Department was appointed Fire Chief on December 28, 1901 but he actually assumed office on April 25, 1902 with Capt. Hoey still as Deputy’ Chief. During his absence, Deputy Chief Hoey assumed the position of Fire Chief.
At the time of Chief Bonner, the City’s fire fighting force consisted of only 80 men and four Fire Stations namely: Tanduay, Sta. Cruz, Paco and Intramuros Fire Stations. The Department has four (4) engine companies and one (1) hook-and-ladder company. The early means of receiving fire alarm was through the telephone system, and in July 1902, the 80 boxes Gamewell Fire Alarm System was established. The 5th fire station at San Nicolas, Binondo, Manila was constructed during Bonner’s term. Upon Chief Bonner’s resignation in 1907, he was succeed by Capt. Lewis Dingman and during his administration, Tondo and San Lazaro Fire Stations were constructed. It was also during this time that the steam fire engine and motor fire apparatus were introduced in the Department, replacing the out-moded horse-drawn fire apparatus. When Chief Dingman resigned in 1919, Capt. Otis Vanderford succeeded him. He was credited for the construction of Sta. Mesa Fire Station thus making eight the total number of fire stations in the city until the outbreak of war. He resigned on October 18, 1935, a month before the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth Republic. He was the last American Fire Chief who served the Manila Fire Department.
On October 19, 1935, Deputy Chief Jacinto Lorenzo became the first Filipino Fire Chief of Manila Fire Department. He was responsible for reduction of duty schedule of the members of the uniformed force division from the period of four (4) days straight service with 7-hour day-off and 15 hours night-off 48 hours duty and 24 hours off-duty. By 1944, he was succeeded by Deputy Chief Cipriano Cruzkempetai or the Japanese military police on all fire stations. Fifty three (53) firemen suspected of supporting the guerilla movement were rounded up. Nobody among them returned despite the strong representation by then Mayor Leon Guinto with the Japanese Imperial Army. To this day, their deaths are still shrouded with mystery. whose administration bore the brunt of the brutal years of Japanese conquest. It is very interesting to note that the darkest moment in the history of Manila Fire Department was during this brutal years of Japanese invasion. As the Japanese occupation was about to come to a close, simultaneous raids were conducted one night by the dreaded
Upon the liberation of the city, the Manila Fire Department was, literally speaking, another debris of war. The U.S. Army had to supply it with trucks, hose another equipment to put it back on its feet. During the tenure of Chief Cruz, four (4) more fire stations were established for the department namely: Gagalangin, Sta. Ana, Arroceros and Sampaloc Fire Stations. On April 21, 1956, he retired from service and was succeeded by Deputy Chief Eulogio Samio who paved the way for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of fire stations, the construction of a modern edifice that houses the Manila Fire Department Central Fire Station at the site of Sta. Cruz Fire Station as well as the acquisition of modern fire fighting equipment and apparatus, and for the first time in its history, Manila acquired two (2) fire boats in 1965. Chief Samio was also responsible for the increase of salary of the fire fighters and non-uniformed force and the reduction of working hours to 24 hours duty and 24 hours off. Upon his retirement on January 21, 1966, Deputy Chief Jesus Cruz took over his post and headed the Department up to December 30, 1966. On December 31, 1966, Capt. Domingo Reyes was designated by Mayor Villegas as Officer-in-Charge up to March 30, 1967, Capt. Federico Garcia was appointed by President Marcos as Chief of Manila Fire department. On March 21, 1974, some three years after the declaration of Police and jail services of the National Capital Region into one unit then known was the Metropolitan Police Force under the nucleus of Philippine Constabulary and was headed by the Commanding General of the Philippine Constabulary, Metropolitan Command. The Manila Fire Department was since then called Fire District I, National Capital Region. Several District Superintendents assumed the leadership of Manila Fire District Command with the likes of Brig. Gen. Reyes, who was twice extended to his post by Pres. Marcos and led the Manila Fire Services from July 1, 1980 to December 17, 1985. After his death of the same year, Col. Rodolfo S. Villavicencio took over his post and led the District Command up to 1987.
As history unfolds, fire stations all over the country were established. Laws were promulgated for the enhancement of the fire service. On August 8, 1975 Presidential Decree (PD) 765 was enacted by then President Marcos thereby constituting the Integrated National Police (INP). It provided for the integration of all city and municipal police and fire departments and jails into the INP. These integrated forces were placed under the operational control of the Philippine Constabulary.
The Integrated National Police was therefore established and made responsible for public safety, protection of lives and properties, enforcement of laws and maintenance of peace and order within the territorial limits of the Philippines. It had the power to prevent crimes, effects and arrest of criminal offenders and provide for their detention and rehabilitation. It took necessary measures to prevent and control fires, investigate the commission of all crimes and offenses and bring the offenders to justice, all the while to take every necessary step to insure public safety.
The Philippine Constabulary as a major service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with law enforcement functions, served as nucleus of the Integrated national Police.
The power of the administrative supervision and control by the city and municipal governments over their respective local police, jail and fire department was transferred to the Chief of Constabulary as Director-General of the Integrated National Police.
Thus, the police fire and jail services were unified into a single organization and the responsibility of training INP personnel was transferred to the Integrated national Police Training Command including the 13 regional training centers throughout the country as mandated by Presidential Decree (PD) 765.
On December 13, 1990, Republic Act (RA) 6975 otherwise known as the DILG Act of 1990 was finally enacted thereby creating the now Bureau of Fire Protection and its present organization under the umbrella of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)
On June 24, 2004, congress enacted R.A. 9263 otherwise known as the BFP Professionalization Act of 2004 which has professionalized and upgraded the qualification standards of appointment in the Bureau of Fire Protection.On May 8, 2009, President Gloria M. Arroyo signed into law, R.A. 9592 entitled an “Act extending the 5 years reglementary period for complying the minimum education qualification and appropriation eligibility in the appointment of the BFP.
The design features, which includes the Malta Cross, the rays of the sun with the Malta Cross, the image of Lapu-Lapu and the National Flag, symbolizes the true ideals of the Bureau of Fire Protection.
The Malta Cross (knighthood emblem) is the symbol of protection, a badge of honor, courage and pride and is a representation of the ideals of the Fire Service in saving lives and properties and the extinguishments of destructive fires.
The number of the outward rays inside the Malta Cross represents the 75 provinces while the number of Laurel leaves, which was represented into two branches, signifies the country's 14 regions during the year when the BFP was conceived as a separate Bureau under the Department of Interior and Local Government.
The logo also features the major fire fighting tools and equipment was embedded on each part of the cross
The image of Lapu-Lapu, who was the first Filipino who led the country in fighting the Spanish conquistadors, signifies bravery, leadership and heroism. The National Flag was also included in the background of Lapu-Lapu.