PM stresses fire safety must improve after recent tragedies

September 12, 2022 - 16:00
Speaking at a teleconference on the issue, Chính said the recent serious fires show that firefighting and rescue forces need urgent support.


Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính on Monday chaired a national teleconference to look into fire prevention and control. VNA/VNS Photo 

HÀ NỘI - After a recent string of fires around the country, Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính has said that any establishments failing to meet fire safety requirements will have their licences revoked and operations suspended.

Speaking at a teleconference on the issue, Chính said the recent serious fires in residential areas, industrial parks, and karaoke parlours show that firefighting and rescue forces need urgent support.

He noted that some of these fires had been deadly and took the opportunity to offer condolences to the bereaved.

"People's health and life are the first and foremost priority," Chính emphasised.

As part of the new regulations, the heads of the Party Committees and local authorities will sanction establishments if they are not following safety procedures and projects or works that violate fire prevention and control regulations will be named in the media, Chính ordered.

He demanded officials analyse outstanding problems, shortcomings, and difficulties while clarifying causes and lessons to improve performance in this regard.

Chính assigned specific tasks to ministries and agencies to speed up the completion of legal framework, regulations and standards on fire safety and asked localities to tighten the inspection, management and control of fire safety and rescues.

He also asked localities to promulgate a resolution on budget expenditure for fire prevention and control and rescue activities.

Within this year, localities must integrate the content of the infrastructure planning on fire prevention and control for 2021-2030, with a vision to 2050 into the general planning of their provinces/cities, Chính said.

However, people's awareness and response skills were still limited, and there remained shortcomings in law enforcement and management activities by State agencies, PM Chính said. 

Losses and causes

Major General Nguyễn Văn Long, Deputy Minister of Public Security, said about 17,055 fires were reported nationwide over the past five years, including 15,484 in houses, facilities, vehicles and 1,571 forest fires.

These fires killed 433 people, injured 790 people and caused damage of more than VNĐ7 trillion (US$297.6 million).

A total of 149 explosions were reported, killing 64, injuring 190 and damaging billions of đồng of property.

More than 60 per cent of the fires occurred in urban areas and more than 40 per cent in residential areas or houses combined with production and business.

About 30 per cent of the fires occurred in production facilities and warehouses, while electrical problems reportedly caused about 45 per cent of the fires.

Regarding rescue work in the last five years, the Fire Protection and Rescue Police forces mobilised more than 235,000 officers and soldiers and 30,000 vehicles to tackle 18,000 fires, explosions and incidents. These actions directly saved 6,786 people and recovered 3,350 bodies of victims. 

Long said ministries and agencies failed to improve the legal framework, instructions and communication.

For example, the Ministry of Construction had not yet developed a mechanism to manage electrical equipment system installation to minimise the risk of electrical faults starting a blaze. 

The Ministry of Industry and Trade had not yet had specific results on reviewing, amending and supplementing regulations on electricity use to ensure fire safety at establishments and households, despite the Government requesting it be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Firefighters lacked specialised equipment, Long said, adding that many coastal localities did not have firefighting ships. In addition, many localities did not have enough funding for fire prevention and control activities.

The infrastructure of transport, water supply and communication failed to catch up with rapid urbanisation, which affected the effectiveness of fire fighting and rescue work, Long said.

Chairman of HCM City People's Committee Phan Văn Mãi said that the city paid special attention to building and strengthening an elite firefighting force. Specialised fire prevention and control teams had been set up in 22 districts and 312 communes, wards and townships.

Since August 1, 2017, the city had reported nearly 3,500 fires, explosions and incidents. In the first eight months of this year, the city reported 122, with two deaths and 12 injured people.

He said that many houses in the city failed to meet fire safety standards, particularly apartments with extra-built iron cages, emphasising that regular inspection and handling of violations was very important for fire prevention and control.

"It is necessary to improve institutions and regulations on the responsibility and forms of sanctions for involved parties," Mãi said, adding the need to improve regulations and standards relating to fire safety.

For example, HCM City issued regulations that welders must be trained in fire safety, Mãi said.

"We need to have a mechanism to coordinate forces in fire prevention, rescue activities for the southern key economic region, and annual drills in the region are required," he said.

He added that fire prevention needs more investment, including helicopters, vessels and robots.

"Without smooth cooperation, proper preparation and regular drills, the damage caused by fires will be huge, especially in the southern key economic region," Mãi said.

Mãi said that fire prevention and rescue work should be considered and added to the list of hazardous occupations so that firefighters/rescuers could get worthy benefits. VNS