Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Residents of apartment buildings in the capital city are getting restless after a deadly blaze claimed 13 lives in the upscale Carina Plaza in HCM City last week.
Most of them are either fearful of the non-functional and ill-maintained fire equipment or the fact that the building itself has not passed fire safety tests.
Recently, residents in the apartment buildings of Tràng An Complex (Cầu Giấy District) hung out red banners on their balconies, which read, “Take care of the fire. Do not blame the residents”, to protest what they deemed an irresponsible attitude on the part of the building owner following a fire incident on March 20.
The Tràng An Complex’s apartment building was marketed as an upscale project, but when the fire ripped through the apartment 904, not one fire alarm was raised, which caused residents in the complex to question the quality of its safety system.
Nguyễn Tuấn Linh, who lives on the 15th floor, said when he went down to the ninth floor to offer help, he was surprised to see that electricity was still on even though fire sprinklers were already in action.
“What if others like me, who went to help, were electrocuted due to this failure?” Linh said.
The lacklustre response of the complex’s owner, GP Investor, after the fire did little to assuage the incensed residents.
Bùi Mạnh Hà, Director of GP Investor, claimed the fire did not last long enough for the alarm system to kick in, adding not all components of the fire safety system will be activated at the same time in case of a fire.
Meanwhile, witnesses said the fire lasted for at least five to seven minutes before being put out.
The fire in HCM City’s Carina Plaza a few days later only worried the residents more and they started to buy fire equipment in droves.
Tràng An complex is among 10 projects that have failed fire safety regulations---lack of emergency exits, a proper fire venting system, as well as insufficient fire prevention measures---even though the construction was completed long back, according to a list of offenders released by the Hà Nội firefighting police earlier last year, Vietnam News Agency reported.
Elsewhere in Hà Nội, those living in highrises have started taking action on their own.
Residents of Capital Garden on Trường Chinh Street followed suit, sticking red banners everywhere on the first floor of the building, demanding the owners to start taking fire threats seriously.
According to the residents, they had moved in at the end of 2017, but the building still did not pass fire safety tests. They said they had submitted several complaints to the owner but did not get a proper response.
After the tragic fire on March 23 in HCM City, the Hà Nội People’s Council organised a working group to inspect fire safety in the two newly developed districts of Bắc Từ Liêm and Nam Từ Liêm, which have a high concentration of apartment buildings.
Nguyễn Hoài Nam, head of the legal department of the municipal People’s Council, said fire safety was not just the responsibility of the building owners. People’s lack of awareness, especially regarding firefighting techniques and escape/evacuation steps, was also a problem.
Nam said buyers were willing to shell out large amounts of money for an apartment while completely trusting the investor. Not many residents are even aware if the building has passed fire safety tests, he said.
He also cited “loose inspection” on the part of the fire authorities that allowed unsafe buildings to continue operation.
Hà Nội currently has more than a thousand high-rise buildings. Apartment buildings having 20-40 floors are popping up in multitude throughout the city’s districts, most notably in Hoàng Mai, Thanh Xuân, Cầu Giấy and Nam Từ Liêm.
However, it’s worth mentioning that the highest range a fire brigade can reach is 14-15th floor. Meanwhile, on-site fire safety equipment, as evident in the two previous cases, leave a lot to be desired, putting residents’ lives at serious risks. — VNS