HA NOI — Money collected from fire violation fines is expected to enhance the country's firefighting capacity, which is now far below demand, according to major general Do Van Son, director of the Department for Firefighting and Rescues under the Ministry of Public Security.
|Local fire fighters tackle a blaze in Cu Chi District in HCM City earlier this month. — VNA/VNS Photo Manh Linh
According to a new draft decree expected to be approved this year, 70 per cent of money collected from fire violation fines will be invested in firefighting facilities.
"Examples in some other sectors have proved the efficiency of using the money collected from fines to invest back in those sectors," said Son.
As a pilot locality, the central province of Nghe An used all of the money collected from fire fines in 2010 and two-thirds last year to invest in the provincial firefighting facilities.
Fines in fire violations in Viet Nam now range from VND50,000-20 million (US$2.3-950).
The money is expected to help set up new firefighter teams and upgrade facilities.
The whole country has now only 169 professional firefighter teams, "which is far below the real demand", according to Son.
"As regulated, a firefighter team only covers an area of 5km in radius but in fact, some teams have to manage areas 30 times bigger than that," he said.
The number of amateur firefighter teams only meets four-fifths of the demand, while the whole sector also faces a severe shortage of facilities, according to a report from the Department for Firefighting and Rescues.
Only 30 per cent of appliances in Viet Nam are in good condition, the report reveals.
Last year saw a 16 per cent decrease in the number of fires across the country from 2010, but "the risks of serious fires are still there," said Son.
Nearly 1,550 fires were reported last year, claiming 75 lives and injuring 215 others. The total losses were nearly VND572 billion ($27.2 million).
They included some 220 forest fires, which destroyed more than 2,000ha of trees. — VNS