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Fire safety still the scourge of Hà Nội

Update: July, 13/2017 - 10:03
Fire prevention and fighting remains a challenge for Hà Nội authorities, with many fires across the capital city leaving serious consequences. — Photo cafef.vn

HÀ NỘI – Fire prevention and fighting remains a challenge for Hà Nội authorities, with many fires across the capital city leaving serious consequences.

The municipal Department of Fire Prevention and Fighting (DFPF) reported 447 fires in the capital city in the first six months of the year at a meeting on Tuesday.

The fires killed three people, injured two others and caused estimated losses of more than VNĐ300 billion (US$13.3 million). They mainly occurred at residential buildings, karaoke shops and restaurants.

The department’s deputy director Nguyễn Văn Sơn said human error, including the burning of incense and votive papers, and electric short-circuits were common reasons for fires.

Violations in installing and using fire fighting equipment were also the major problems. Although fire prevention equipment is effective, most residential houses are not equipped with fire alarms and other equipment, according to Sơn.

Most old apartment buildings were built with little regard to fire protection and only basic items like fire extinguishers and fire protection notices. New apartment buildings in big cities often have fire alarm systems, but they may not really work when fires strike.

As of May 31, 79 apartment buildings in Hà Nội fell short of fire safety standards after the department inspected 8,000 high-rise buildings in the city.

Of the buildings in violation of fire safety standards, 78 did not have fire safety certificates while another had not undergone a safety test.

According to the department, many buildings with luxury apartments face fire safety issues.

Hà Đông District has the highest number of such buildings with 21, followed by Bắc Từ Liêm, Thanh Xuân and Hoàng Mai districts with 10, nine and eight, respectively. 

In the first six months of the year, the department inspected nearly 20,000 establishments on fire safety regulations and found 2,168 violators with a total fine of more than VNĐ6 billion ($264,000), according to a department report.

To help reduce fire hazards, the department plans to promote information dissemination to raise public awareness of fire prevention and fighting and increase inspections of fire safety regulations, particularly at residential buildings, warehouses and restaurants and bars, said department’s Director Hoàng Quốc Định.

Hà Nội has recently decided that developers of high-rise buildings that violate safety codes will not be eligible for future land allocation or land lease as part of measures to deal with rampant fire safety violations in construction, according to the municipal People’s Committee.

The DFPF was asked to work with relevant agencies in supervising fire prevention requirements to ensure that projects undergo fire safety tests before being certified for operation.

The department was also told to fine or suspend the use of high-rise buildings if necessary. The department can recommend using force to the local government if investors fail to comply with fire safety regulations.

Investors who fail to comply or deliberately violate the fire safety regulations will be named and shamed, while residents will be advised not to move into buildings without proper fire protection.

The Department of Construction was asked to ensure fire safety standards are met before issuing permits for construction and certificates of approval and occupancy. No construction permit should be issued if the project designs had not been approved by the DFPF and construction projects would not be allowed to operate if they fail fire safety tests. — VNS

 

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