Fire tragedies cause alarm in residential areas

April 10, 2021 - 08:45

On April 4, a blaze in a house in Hà Nội killed four members of a family, including a 10-year-old child and a pregnant woman.


A fire at the house in Hà Nội's Tôn Đức Thắng Street has killed a family of four, including a 10-year-old child and a pregnant woman in April 4. VNA/VNS Photo Tuấn Đức

HÀ NỘI — Two deadly fires in recent weeks have raised the alarm about poor fire safety standards in big cities.

On April 4, a blaze in a house in Hà Nội killed four members of a family, including a 10-year-old child and a pregnant woman.

Five days earlier, six members of a family died in a fire at their house in HCM City.

Colonel Nguyễn Minh Khương, deputy director of the Police Department of Fire Prevention and Fighting and Rescue under the Ministry of Public Security, said both the houses were small and covered with iron cages and iron-welded roofs. The main door was the only way in or out.

At the house in HCM City’s Cát Lái Ward, five motorbikes were parked in front of the main door. When they caught fire, they blocked the only way out.

In Hà Nội, the fire occurred at a house that was not eligible as the site of a business but there were many flammable goods for sale inside. It was covered with an iron roof and there was no other way out but the main door.

That’s why the victims did not manage to escape, he said.

Colonel Nguyễn Trường Sơn, deputy head of Cầu Giấy District Police Sub-department and an expert on fire prevention and fighting of the Hà Nội Police Department, said there was not much time to stamp out fires at business households with flammable materials.

Sơn said in these fires, it took at least 10 minutes for the firefighters to approach the scene, which was usually too late.

In big cities, many houses are used as shops for business, especially houses near roads. Most of the shops have a worship altar of the God of Wealth and goods close to the main door, posing high risks of fire.

Meanwhile, due to the dense population in urban areas, many people only focus on measures to prevent burglary and intrusion instead of fires. In many houses, the main door is the only entrance and exit.

According to Hà Nội Police Department, the city now has hundreds of thousands of houses combined with businesses and most have only one way in and out.

Figures from the Ministry of Public Security’s Police Department of Fire Prevention and Fighting and Rescue showed in the first quarter of this year, there were 627 fires at private houses nationwide, accounting for 36.3 per cent of all recorded fires.

Most of the houses are used for small business and in most of these fires, the damage was not great but caused serious consequences for those living in the houses.

Colonel Nguyễn Minh Khương said the two fires should be a lesson for people to follow fire prevention regulations.

“Each house must have at least two ways in and out. Households must pay attention and clear goods and furniture out of the way in and out of the house,” he said.

“People should be equipped with skills to escape from the fire. For example, they should know how to escape the house from the balcony so rescuers can approach and save their lives,” he said.

“Those who build an iron cage on their balcony must build one more exit in case of emergency,” he added.

Khương also suggested that families have fire escape equipment and install automatic fire alarms. Information on fire prevention and fighting skills is available at the department’s website on VNS