Thursday, April 27 2017

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Ancient Hội An battles fire danger

Update: March, 02/2017 - 08:00
A spate of fires in the ancient town of Hội An is causing concern for citizens and local authorities. A project on fire fighting and prevention is looking for funding of VNĐ240 billion.— Photo tienphong.vn

HÀ NỘI – A spate of fires in the ancient town of Hội An is causing concern for citizens and local authorities. A project on fire fighting and prevention is looking for funding of VNĐ240 billion.    

Local authorities and relevant offices have tasked themselves with urgent fire prevention measures in the ancient town, which is a UNESCO-recognised world cultural asset in Việt Nam. 80 per cent of house in Hội An are built using wood, with traditional methods dating from the 17th to 19th centuries.

The cause of two recent fires on Nguyễn Thái Học Street was determined to have been electrical faults. Concerns over fires are widespread due to the characteristic old houses, and the possibility of blazes spreading quickly and causing huge amounts of damage.

Luckily, the recent fires occurred during the day and were discovered early, so little damage was caused, said Nguyễn Văn Sơn, deputy chairman of Hội An People’s Committee.

“The danger of fire spreading is high in concentrated areas of adjacent old houses,” Sơn said.

According to the deputy chairman, Hội An needs a fire warning system and fire prevention measures that deploy automatically, requirements that were mapped out as part of a project by the local people’s committee.

The fire prevention project, needing about VNĐ240 billion of funding, was included in the master plan on world cultural asset preservation and development.

However, the city is still waiting on a source of funding.

The head of the Hội An police office, Colonel Đinh Xuân Nghĩa, said the deployment of fire fighting police officers to the ancient streets was not easy.

“The fire fighting police office is located in Thanh Hà Ward. It takes us 20 minutes by truck to arrive at in the centre, where the ancient streets are located,” Nghĩa said.

“Due to the narrow streets, the large fire trucks are not able to enter, while the smaller ones are not equipped to deal with significant fires.”      Recent fires at rented properties that were vacant have pushed local authorities to suggest the equipping of mini fire extinguishers.

The deputy chairman, Nguyễn Văn Sơn, said forgetting to turn off the power before closing a store was enough to cause a fire in an area where 90 to 100 per cent of houses facing the street are for business use, and are mainly made out of wood.

Since late 2011, the ancient streets have had a population density of 12,129 people per square kilometre. The water pipeline system serving the locations couldn’t meet the demand if a large fire occurred.

About the plan, Sơn said the local authorities will send teams to residential quarters to raise awareness of fire prevention and safety. Relevant offices will check electrical systems in residential and commercial properties, and set up a civil fire fighting force. – VNS     

 

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