Viet Nam News
HCM CITY – Many apartment buildings in HCM City fall short of fire safety standards, putting thousands of lives at risk, the Hà Nội Mới (New Hanoi) newspaper reported.
In many old buildings fire prevention and control systems have deteriorated but have not been fixed.
More dangerous still, some newly-built apartment buildings’ fire safety measures have yet to be inspected, posing risks for residents. The HCM City’s Firefighting Department checked high-rise buildings in the city and found 12 buildings that did not undergo fire safety examinations but had residents living in them.
A fire on the 11th floor of an apartment building on Nguyễn Văn Linh Street in Bình Chánh District last month raised alarms about poor fire safety standards when it was discovered that the building had not undergone fire safety examinations. It took more than one hour for firefighters to save all the residents stuck inside the building.
Fire fighting in high-rise buildings is also quite challenging due to a lack of equipment.
Director of the HCM City’s Fire Fighting Department, Lê Tấn Bửu, told the newspaper that firefighters struggled to fight fires in increasingly tall buildings. The biggest fire truck ladders can only reach the 18th floor of a building. However, in many cases, the ladders could only reach the 15th floor.
Bửu said development planning for fire fighting in HCM City to 2025 did not cover the purchase of essential equipment for fighting fires at high-rise buildings.
The department will ask the municipal People’s Committee to buy helicopters for rescue and fire fighting if they deem it an urgent need, he said.
However, Ngô Viết Nam Sơn, an urban planning expert, said using helicopters to fight fire was not simple. Each helicopter costs tens of millions of US dollars while operating it requires huge investment in infrastructure and human resources.
Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Huỳnh Cách Mạng said regular inspections and tackling violations in high-rise buildings was important to prevent fires.
Recent inspections by the department at 645 buildings of 10 stories and above in HCM City showed that at least 12 new apartment buildings and several older ones did not met fire safety requirements.
The number of fires in HCM City had increased 50 per cent this year compared to the last two years, said the HCM City fire fighting force at a meeting in late June.
According to fire fighting force, from 2014, the city has witnessed 1,467 fires killing 25 people and injuring 76 others with total property loss worth VNĐ637 billion (US$28.5 million). — VNS