|A petrol station in a crowded residential area on Ha Noi's Thuy Khue Street. Many stations have violated fire safety regulations in their design and operation. — VNA/VNS Photo Pham Kien
HA NOI (VNS) — Numerous gas stations in Ha Noi may be better thought of as ticking time bombs. Despite being located in the middle of crowded residential areas, already a violation, many overlooked or ignored fire safety regulations in both design and in day-to-day operations, reported the People (Nhn Dn) newspaper.
The paper's report mentioned stations with unreadable emergency signage or stations, like station No. 112, located next to a street beer-venue with a busy kitchen and smoking customers nearby, ad without enough fire extinguishers.
A nearby station on Nguyen Trai Street, Thanh Xuan District sits right next to a car repair shop, posing a fire risk every time a machine or tool turns on.
Gas stations located close to residential areas are also responsible for degrading the living environment for neighbouring residents. Among the list were stations on busy central streets such as Kham Thien, Nguyen Cong Tru, Tran Hung Dao and De La Thanh.
"We have been affected by gas fume for years. Especially, the elderly and the children who often suffer from headaches and develop allergies caused by the fumes," said Nguyen Anh Tuan, a resident from the H1 apartment complex on Nguyen Cong Tru Street.
Pham Duy Hung, who lives nearby the gas station on Kham Thien Street, said the neighbourhood is under constant fear of fire because of the close proximity of the station.
"We are all afraid it will happen one day and when it does. It will get out of control very quickly. Nobody can tell how badly it will be for nearby houses and families," he said.
Reassuring local residents, head of staff Tran The at the gas station on De La Thanh said his station and 70 others under Petrolimex Ha Noi management have to complete routine trainings in fire emergency response and the city's Fire and Police Department perform regular inspections on their fire-fighting equipment.
Tran Dac Xuan, director of Petrolimex Ha Noi, said his company has been working with the city's fire department and other agencies to upgrade their stations' fire equipment as well as conduct regular training sessions for staff.
Pumps will also get an upgrade to reduce fume emissions and minimise their adverse affects on local residents, he added.
President of the Viet Nam Petroleum Association Phan The Rue said regulations required gas stations to keep a safe distance from residential areas, constantly upgrade firefighting equipment and conduct fire emergency training sessions.
However, a report by the city's Fire and Police Department indicated that the city currently has 500 gas stations, 380 of which failed to meet fire safety standards, largely because they did not keep a safe distance from residential or commercial areas.
The Ha Noi Fire Police Department shut down 46 gas stations deemed too dangerous to local residents.
Just last month, on April 14, a fire started right next to the gas station at 107 Nguyen Tuan Street in Thanh Xuan District. The station was forced to close down while four fire trucks and dozens of firefighters put out the flames.
The situation could have been worse, like the tanker truck that exploded in 2013 after a fire at 2B Tran Hung Dao Street gas station in Hoan Kiem District. Located in front of the crowded 108 Military Hospital, the fire lasted for more than five hours and caused billions of dong in damage. — VNS