Premier instructs investigation of blazes
The China PostBy Ann Yu--Premier Sean Chen expressed his deepest regrets for the recent blazes in Hsinchu and Tainan, instructing the National Fire Agency to investigate the issue and find whether there were appropriate fire precautions in each instance.
January 18, 2013, 12:23 am TWN
A fire broke out in an apartment in Tainan at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, killing two sisters who were trapped behind metal bars around the windows used to prevent burglars. Although the firefighting rescue team reached the scene in eight minutes, the narrow alleys obstructed the fire trucks from fully facilitating the rescue work, which may have prevented the rescue of the women.
This was the second incident where the fire department was delayed in their rescue operations. Another case occurred in Hsinchu where an elderly man was trapped in a burning house for nearly 20 minutes before firefighters could reach him. In the wake of the two incidents that happened during the week, speculators have accused the fire agency of incompetence in the failed rescues.
The Hsinchu incident also resulted in Chief Wu Wu-tai stepping down from his post. Wu said that he would take full responsibility and accept the punishment.
The premier stressed that discussion of narrow alleys should be included in urban renewal projects, as these alleys are problematic for the safety of the civilians in the city. He said that the main goal for urban renewal projects is to create safer living conditions for the people.
Chief of the National Fire Agency (NFA) Yeh Chi-tang (葉吉堂) explained that firefighting reports will be given to the NFA today. At the Cabinet's weekly meeting, he admitted that those who led the task force over the Tainan incident were more inexperienced since most staff who usually head such inquiries had their day off that day.
He also added that the obstructed alleys were another cause of the delayed response from fire departments. To this, Yeh said that on Jan. 22, the entire nation's fire departments will gather for a review forum to discuss the recent incidents and to advocate the importance of a no-blockage fire lane.
Chen reminded the NFA that they would need to clarify and explain their rescue measures to the public. He said that many people question certain rescue methods that were not used by the fire rescue teams, and that their questions should be met with answers from the fire agencies.
The premier still showed confidence over the fire bureau's performance over the past years, saying that incidents of fires were reduced greatly from 8,254 in 1999 to 1,772 in 2011.