Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The Old Quarter of the capital city of Hà Nội is a built-up area featuring a labyrinth of narrow alleys that put it at heightened risk of fire.
Just on Tuesday, in the city, two fires occurred, one at the Institute of Energy’s apartment blocks in alley No 43, Chùa Bộc Street, Đống Đa District, and the other on Phùng Hưng Street, Hoàn Kiếm District.
The two incidents fortunately did not result in any casualty; however, they could be considered a wake-up call, bringing, once again, the risk of fire in these crowded areas into sharp focus.
Currently, many streets in the Old Quarter or in its vicinity, such as Hàng Mã St, Đinh Lễ St and Đào Duy Từ St, boast several deep alleys with width of 2-4m. In addition, the area is densely packed with buildings that are utilised by their residents as business and trade venues.
The pavements of Hàng Vải St or Lò Sũ St are taken up by local people as an extension of their clothing and footwear shops – very flammable materials. The houses are mostly dilapidated and outfitted with equally rickety extensions.
The combination of these conditions make it difficult to put out fires, Hà Nội municipal Fire Department told Người Lao Động newspaper (The Labour).
When fires broke out, the firefighters are forced to employ "manual" methods, i.e. getting too close to the incident site and using fire extinguishers or pulling water pipes to douse the fire directly. Not only do these methods prove to be ineffective in case of raging fires, but the lives of the firefighters are also endangered.
The department said it can only hope to raise public awareness to minimise the risk of fire in the first place.
The department has recommended that all shops and stores in the city must carefully observe fire safety guidelines.
Besides this, the electrical system must be placed under comprehensive review and assessment, especially with stores and shops trading in easily flammable materials.
According to Fire Protection Police Unit 1 of Hoàn Kiếm District, district-wide, there are 1,700 alleys and 30 streets inaccessible by fire trucks.
Phạm Tuấn Long, deputy chairman of Hoàn Kiếm District’s People’s Committee, said the district planned to suspend activities of all stores, restaurants, karaoke bars and other venues which failed to implement fire protection measures, until these regulations were fully met. — VNS