A firefighter extinguishes a fire which broke out on Wednesday morning at Cong market in the northern province of Thanh Hóa’s Tinh Gia District, burning down 400 booths. It took five hours to stamp out the fire. — VNA/VNS Photo Trinh Duy Hưng
Phạm Minh Khương, deputy head of the Police Department of Fire Prevention, Fighting and Rescue under the Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) talks with Vietnam News Agency on measures to improve fire prevention and fighting work.
Fires and explosions have claimed a number of lives and caused serious damage to property this year. What can be done about this?
In the first nine months of this year, the country reported 3,059 fires, resulting in the deaths of 75 individuals and injuries to 99 others. The losses are estimated at nearly VNĐ1.2 trillion (US$51.7 million).
As many as 16 explosions occurred in the same period, killing 6 people and damaging VNĐ400 million worth of property.
There are many causes behind these serious fires.
Regarding forest fires, the weather is hot in May, June and July. Hot weather together with prolonged drought is the main reason for these incidents.
Poor awareness of local people on fire prevention is also a problem.
Some local authorities have not imposed fines on violations relating to fire prevention and fighting.
Due attention has not been paid to investing in fire control equipment, affecting the effectiveness of the work in some localities.
It has been a year since the MoPS directed departments of fire prevention and control and local police nationwide to improve the efficiency of State management in fire prevention. Has this been successful?
Under the direction of the MoPS, fire prevention and control police forces from the central to the local level have assisted local authorities in the management of fire prevention and fighting.
Positive results have been achieved after a year. Local authorities have better understanding about their responsibilities in organising and directing inspections of fire safety compliance.
More fire prevention and fighting teams have been set up.
Local police have collaborated with authorities in raising awareness of fire prevention among enterprises and organisations as well as residents, limiting the number of incidents.
They know how to handle the situation when a fire breaks out, particularly learning skills required in case of evacuation.
Currently, the police force is tasked with State management of fire prevention and fighting at communal and ward level. What’s your opinion on this?
The police force at the communal level haven’t received training on fire prevention and fighting and rescue operations, so there are limitations in their skills. However, the department has been proactive in providing basic knowledge. In the future, more short-term training programmes will be held for this force to ensure they fulfil their duties.
What are the difficulties in securing protective equipment for fire prevention and fighting teams?
Uniforms and equipment needed for firefighters are still in short supply and can’t meet the demands of the work. Particularly, gas masks are in high demand.
Current uniforms aren’t thick enough to protect firefighters from high temperatures and sharp objects and absolutely can’t protect them from chemicals.
The size and weight of the helmets and boots provided are not suitable for Vietnamese people.
Thus, forces face many difficulties in reaching and dealing with fires. Many are burned or injured.
How does the department organise inspections and handling of violations?
The fire prevention and fighting department will temporarily suspend the operation of establishments which violate fire prevention and fighting regulations after they have received warnings.
The department will work will local authorities in conducting inspections. If the establishments still fail to ensure fire safety standards, they will be asked to cease operations permanently. — VNS