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Capital ill equipped to fight major fires

Update: October, 31/2014 - 08:45
Recent fires sounded an alarm for authorities about the city's lack of readiness. — Photo laodong

HA NOI (VNS) — Ha Noi was not equipped or prepared to put out fires, as evidenced by the 126 fires and 18 fire-related deaths so far in 2014, Ha Noi People's Committee members said during a meeting this week.

Recent fires sounded an alarm for authorities about the city's lack of readiness. The People's Committee gathered to evaluate firefighting efforts and prevention infrastructure.

It was told by the police fire department that in addition to causing 18 deaths, fires this year injured 14 and damaged property worth a total US$2.4 million.

This month, a fire ravaged Quang Minh Industrial Park in Me Linh district, causing $6 million damage to infrastructure and assets.

"The main difficulty was the lack of water available in the industrial park to put out the fire," said Nguyen Van Son, deputy director of the city's fire department.

Businesses had not paid enough attention to fire prevention, said Bui Van Thanh, deputy minister of the Ministry of Public Security. He said they must improve fire safety infrastructure, check it regularly and practice evacuating buildings.

Older areas in Ha Noi are often not designed with fire safety in mind. Outdated or rundown industrial parks, traditional markets, supermarkets, apartment complexes and residential areas often pose fire hazards.

Fire regulations require authorities to install water hydrants every 150 metres in streets, but there are only 1,600, more than 4,000 less than needed.

Other water sources, such as natural lakes, ponds, water depots and water plants can help extinguish fires, but they are located mainly in downtown districts, leaving outlying areas unprotected.

Access also poses a problem for firefighters. When fires ignite in small alleys and streets in old areas, it is often difficult to get to them. Rush hour traffic and curious loiterers can also stop firefighters from getting to sites in time. — VNS

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