All too common for developers to cut costs on fire prevention

China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-06-29 07:24

ON JUNE 22, a fire in an apartment in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, killed a woman and her three children. The police arrested the family's nanny on suspicion she started the fire deliberately. An editorial on Beijing News comments:

The suspect is already in custody and an investigation is underway. If the nanny is found to have set fire to the apartment deliberately, she should pay for her crimes.

However, the case raises a question: How could a small fire have killed so many? Reports show that the fire covered about 50 square meters, which is rather small compared with major fire accidents, but it took longer than two hours for it to be extinguished.

In fact there are many problems with the fire protection facilities in the community. When the fire happened, the fire hydrant on that floor of the building could not be used because there was no water supply to it. The smoke sensor did not work, and other residents in the building said they did not hear any fire alarm. Also the windows of the apartment that was on fire could only be opened 6 or 7 centimeters, which caused large amounts of smoke to accumulate inside.

The community is said to be one of the most expensive in Hangzhou. However, its fire protection system is full of flaws and failed to protect lives when needed. The situation might be worse in other communities.

What happened in Hangzhou is not an isolated case. This April, when an apartment in a high-rise building in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, caught fire, a family had to climb out of the window on the 18th floor, fortunately they were saved. The fire hydrant also failed that time.

There are many similar cases. A major reason for this is realty developers fail to pay due attention to fire protection facilities and try to save costs when installing them.

Even those communities that do have the necessary fire protection facilities, the property management companies often don't check them regularly. A local media organization in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, investigated 16 communities, and found that the fire hydrants in eight of them were not working. It is time to organize a thorough check of fire protection facilities in residential buildings across the country so as to prevent the tragedy in Hangzhou from happening again.

(China Daily USA 06/29/2017 page11)

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