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How to avoid a fiery nightmare

Update: October, 06/2014 - 09:31

Awareness is essential for fire prevention, Major Pham Trung Hieu from the Ha Noi Police Department of Firefighting and Fire Prevention told Kinh te & Do thi (Urban and Economic Affairs) newspaper.

Could you briefly talk about the current status of firefighting and fire prevention in Ha Noi?

Firefighting and fire prevention in Viet Nam, particularly in Ha Noi, faces many challenges. Current practices don't work as well in tall buildings and in residential areas, particularly those built more than a dozen years ago.

The city's biggest weakness is the lack of escape routes in densely populated areas. The designs of many community markets built before 2000 do not allow easy escape. Water hoses and firefighting facilities are there, but they are deteriorating. If a fire breaks out, it will become a nightmare for people in the market and its vicinity.

The problems have existed for many years, but how can we solve them?

Most buildings or markets have been operating for a long time. When they were built, Viet Nam didn't have standards or criteria for fire safety. In addition, due to a lack of funds for maintenance, firefighting facilities have been left in a state of deterioration, stopping firefighters from doing their jobs properly.

The Ha Noi Firefighting Police Unit is gathering information on firefighting and fire prevention activities in the city to write a report to the Government. Based on the collected information, we'll propose measures to prevent fires, and deal with them swiftly and safely.

Quite a few building owners have bypassed fire safety standards when constructing their establishments. What's your position on this?

I can't agree more. The Ha Noi Police Department of Firefighting and Fire Prevention has conducted regular checks and even unexpected checks on the fire safety in tall buildings, markets and supermarkets in the city.

During our visits, if we detect any weaknesses, we recommend that project owners take immediate action to ensure safety for people on their property. In serious cases, the owners are fined.

How do you make people aware of the importance of fire safety?

In our work, people play a very important role. If one knows how to extinguish a fire, one can prevent serious harm to the building in question and its inhabitants. But, I concede that many people living in residential areas and high rises don't think fire prevention is their responsibility. This is why many of them don't take precautions when they burn votive paper or cook their meals near flammable materials on the staircase.

What can we do to ensure the efficiency of fire safety in the city?

The first thing we must do is to raise every one's awareness about the importance of firefighting and fire prevention. The second thing is to call on them to take caution when battling a fire, and strictly observe all rules and regulations on firefighting and fire prevention.

What should we focus on to be more effective?

We should focus on a communication campaign to raise people's awareness about how to prevent fires, and how to deal with them if they do break out.

The Police Department of Firefighting and Fire Prevention will organise training for office staff on how to escape from a fire or an explosion. — VNS

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