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|A firefighting exercise in Hà Nội.|
Hà Nội People’s Committee last week asked the city’s fire prevention police to heighten fire prevention plans and monitor locations at high fire risk.
About 4,000 fire accidents occurred in Việt Nam last year, killing 96, injuring 203 and incurring losses of VNĐ2 billion (US$88,000), the Nhân Dân (People) online newspaper reported. In Hà Nội alone, 20 people died in 820 fire accidents and explosions. Half of the incidents occurred at home. Most of the victims died from inhaling toxic fumes.
High demand for new electric equipment and home power lines at this time of the year is one of the factors leading to fires in the city, said Nguyễn Đặng Thiện, deputy head of the Safety Management Department of Electricity Việt Nam (EVN) in Hà Nội.
“Citizens should make sure they use electric parts of clear origin, and choose wiring compatible with the power capacity of their houses to avoid power overload,” he told Lao Động (Labour) newspaper.
The cold weather in the northern area has led to people lighting fires with scrap wood in the streets throughout the city, many of them near power poles and wiring, Thiện added.
“If these wires catch fire, the consequences will be unbearable,” he said. “Similarly, small vendors should not place their carts near power poles, no matter what their excuses are.”
Determined to reduce the number of fire accidents in the city, the HCM City People’s Committee last week told fire prevention police to shake-up their approach.
Nguyễn Thanh Hưởng, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Firefighting Police, said that he aimed to reduce major fire accidents and those caused by power malfunctions by 10 per cent.
“We will collaborate with district authorities to review fire-prevention tactics at bars, restaurants, factories and high-rise buildings and crowded locations before, during and after Tết,” he told the Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Saigon) newspaper.
Fire prevention police in other localities, including the provinces of Kon Tum, Bắc Ninh, Gia Lai and Phú Thọ, said they had reviewed big markets at high risk, notably Việt Trì Market (in Phú Thọ) with 700 kiosks and the Pleiku Trade Centre (in Kon Tum) with more than 800 kiosks.
At this time of the year, the amount of goods has doubled, even tripled to serve demand. Most are made from flammable material, including incense, candles, and spirit clothes and banknotes made from paper.
The power systems at these markets are mostly degraded since they were installed more than a decade ago, creating a risk of power failures and electrical explosions.
But more often than not, kiosk owners have a tendency to place their goods outside their kiosks to expand their space, sometimes blocking the way to firemen and their equipment.
Trần Hữu Đoàn, vice captain of the Việt Trì Market’s management team, said it had frequently reminded kiosk owners to remove obstructing goods and to buy fire extinguishers.
“We have also added some fire extinguishers and water pipelines to the market,” he said.
Trần Văn Tư, head of the Pleiku Trade Centre’s management board, said he had warned kiosk owners not to stock firecrackers, alcohol and petrol, and not to burn incense inside the centre.
“We have also hung banners and signs asking customers not to smoke inside the centre,” he said.