Sunday, August 20, 2017

Fire department to ramp up shopping centre checks

Fire safety officials are intensifying their inspection regime following two high-profile fires in Yangon. The city fire department says it performs checks at big shopping centres and supermarkets at least every six months.

Firefighters respond to a blaze at Junction Square centre on November 23.(Aung Khant/The Myanmar Times)Firefighters respond to a blaze at Junction Square centre on November 23.(Aung Khant/The Myanmar Times)

U Htay Win, staff officer of the Western Yangon District Fire Services Department, said on November 24 they were still investigating the causes of a fire at Junction Square on November 23, which drove hundreds of shoppers from the mall.

Police say the manager of the top-floor YKKO restaurant there is facing charges.

U Htay Win would not comment on social network reports that said the fire alarm and sprinkler systems in Junction Square failed, saying the case was still under investigation.

“We can’t say yet whether the system was working or not. Checks are made to shopping centres regularly once every six months, or more often if necessary,” he said.

On November 17, a fire broke out on the 22nd floor of the under-construction Diamond Inya Palace in U Htun Nyein Street, Mayangone township, reportedly after a spotlight fell on a wooden scaffold.

The fire at Junction Square, between Kyundaw and Pyay roads in Sanchaung township, occurred five days later.

Though nobody was injured in either blaze, the proliferation of new high-rise buildings in the city has led to worries about fire safety.

The fire department and Yangon City Development Committee have already issued stricter fire prevention rules for high-rise buildings.

“Shopping centres and public buildings must have fire safety systems. The design and operation of fire alarms in multi-storey buildings have to be checked, and regular maintenance and follow-up inspections must be performed,” said U Khin Maung Tint, chair of the Committee for Quality Control of High-rise Building Projects.

“The fire department will issue a certificate of tenancy only if the whole system is in order. But there is a limit to how much the fire department alone can do,” he said.

An official of City Mart Holdings, which runs the City Mart supermarkets in Yangon, said on November 24 that department officials made regular visits to inspect fire safety precautions and extinguishers, and provide training to staff.

Translation by Kyawt Darly Lin