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Big city parking lots at high risk of fire

Update: January, 30/2018 - 09:00
Many parking lots at old apartment buildings, which often house hundreds of motorbikes, are not equipped with proper firefighting tools, thus running a huge risk of fire. – Photo vtv.vn

HÀ NỘI – Parking lots are places with a high risk of fire. When a fire breaks out, there are often very serious consequences as vehicles are parked close together and oil and gasoline can sometimes be present on the ground.

The danger from parking lots is real but hasn’t received due attention from local government and competent agencies, as well as from parking lot owners and staff.

Many parking lots at old apartment buildings, which often house hundreds of motorbikes, are not equipped with proper firefighting tools, thus running a huge risk of fire, the Kinh tế và đô thị (Economics and Urban Affairs) newspaper reported.

To store more vehicles, many people don’t hesitate to upgrade their house or take advantage of unused land in and around the buildings to turn them into parking lots, the report continued.

The newspaper cited the C1, C2 and C3 apartment buildings on Giải Phóng Road in Hoàng Mai District’s Giáp Bát Ward as one example.

Phạm Thị Kim, a local resident, remodelled two apartments to accommodate hundreds of motorbikes in a parking lot of about 200sq.m.

Reporters from the newspaper visited the parking lot and found that there was only one way to enter and exit the space. It was equipped with five old fire extinguishers and there was no ventilation system.

The same issues were seen in other parking lots in Thành Công and Giảng Võ Wards in Ba Đình District, Kim Liên and Trung Tự Wards in Đống Đa Street, Thanh Xuân Bắc Ward in Thanh Xuân District or Nguyễn Công Trứ and Thanh Nhàn in Hai Bà Trưng District.

Portable fire extinguishers were available at parking lots but they were scarce and too small to cope with fires of any significant size.

Nguyễn Thi Ánh, who lives in the Thành Công residential building, said while parking lots were often filled with a lot of motorbikes, their owners ignored fire safety regulations.

“Sometimes, owners allow customers to smoke cigarettes or even use traditional coal stoves next to the building,” she said.

When asked about the risk of fire at parking lots, Lý Thị Như Trang, vice chairman of Giáp Bát Ward’s People’s Committee, told the newspaper that local authorities planned to inspect Kim’s parking lot and monitor the fire prevention measures at the facility.

Agreeing with the need to tighten fire prevention standards at motorbike parking lots, representatives from wards such as Giảng Võ, Thanh Xuân Bắc and Thanh Nhàn said they would carry out inspections and strictly deal with violations. They also called for coordination from fire prevention police departments in organising training courses on how to tackles blazes for parking lot owners and staff.

Many parking lots in HCM City also face a high risk of fire, as they do not comply with fire safety regulations, Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper has found.

There have been many car park fires, causing serious damage in the city in recent years.

One fire broke out at a parking lot on Cao Lỗ Road in District 8 on April 5, 2014, destroying more than 300 motorbikes and causing dozens of billions of đồng in damage.

At the beginning of 2016, more than 10 expensive cars were incinerated after a garage on Cống Quỳnh Street in District 1 went up in flames. The fire also threatened the lives of dozens of households living nearby.

Situated in a densely populated area, a parking lot of Trần Văn Kiều Apartment Building in District 10’s Ward 14 receives hundreds of motorbikes every day. However, many people including staff of the parking lot still smoke cigarettes when they enter or leave the garage. They even throw their lit cigarette butts on the ground, the newspaper reported.

Worried about the high risk of fire, local residents have reported the situation to local authorities as well as fire prevention police, but the situation hasn’t improved.

According to HCMC Fire Police, the city now has more than 2,000 parking lots and garages combined with mechanic facilities.

The greatest danger comes from the parking lots which also offer repair services. These places frequently violate regulations on fire prevention and control. If available at all, the fire-fighting equipment was often unsuitable or degraded. The facilities had no firewalls to prevent the spread of fire, and members of staff regularly smoked in the building.

The Fire Prevention Police Department of HCM City said tacking violations in fire prevention at parking lots was highlighted during the year-end and days prior to Tết (the Lunar New Year).

“From mid-November last year, the department has coordinated with relevant agencies to inspect parking lots in the city and strictly deal with violations. Those who fail to comply with fire safety measures will be stopped from operating,” said a representative from the fire department.

The department also advised parking lot owners to enhance the knowledge on fire prevention for their staff and customers as well as install ventilation systems and equip the lots with firefighting equipment in a bid to minimise the danger. The issuance of business licences for car parks should be tightened, and fire safety requirements should be made a prerequisite, it said. — VNS

 

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