The Hanoi People's Committee has just issued Dispatch No.3544/UBND on measures to strengthen fire prevention and fire fighting efforts and to strengthen inspection of facilities with high risk of fire and explosion in the city.
The dispatch outlines nine main categories of measures, with special emphasis on fighting and preventing fire and explosion incidents, especially in high-risk areas such as apartment buildings, industrial zones, handicraft villages, and commercial centers.
Fire engulfs a tenement building on Khuong Ha Street in Hanoi's Thanh Xuan district on the night of September 12. Photo: VGP
"Accordingly, these are priority efforts from now until the end of 2023 and further extended to 2025. In particular, the inspection of facilities with a high risk of fire and explosion must be carried out immediately, and inspectors must report the results to the municipal people's committee by November 15," the dispatch said.
It also stresses the importance of public awareness campaigns and training programs to equip people with basic rescue and evacuation skills. The Municipal People's Committee encourages enterprises, organizations, and individuals in the capital to actively upgrade their knowledge and skills in responding to fire, explosion, and accident situations.
According to a report from the city government, following the tragic fire at a tenement building in an alley on Khuong Ha Street in Hanoi's Thanh Xuan District on September 12 (which left 56 dead and 37 others injured), Hanoi police have inspected nearly 23,400 establishments, checking 311 studio apartments, about 13,300 boarding houses, 225 apartments, about 9,550 houses with shops at risk of fire and explosion. Nearly 630 administrative violations were handled with fines of over VND3.5 billion (US$142,200).
There are currently about 2,000 tenement buildings in Hanoi, mainly concentrated in the districts of Bac Tu Liem, Nam Tu Liem, Dong Da, Thanh Xuan, Cau Giay, and Tay Ho.
In an interview with The Hanoi Times, Nguyen Dinh Khuyen, Chairman of the Tay Ho District People's Committee, confirmed that the inspection team in his district will check every single building for fire safety.
"We have asked all wards in the district to strictly monitor compliance with fire safety measures, especially in multi-story residential buildings, tenement buildings, high-density rental houses, private buildings, and offices," Khuyen said.
A building in Hanoi's Thach That District, built without a permit, has nine floors with nearly 200 apartments. Photo: Anninhthudo.vn
Senior Colonel Duong Duc Hai, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Municipal Police Department, said that a number of residential buildings and studio apartments for rent in Hanoi (each with hundreds of apartments) have recently been built without permits, posing a very high risk of fire and explosion.
"We are conducting a general inspection and comprehensive assessment of fire and explosion prevention and structure for this type of housing, then strictly handle violations to ensure people's safety.
Pham Thanh Liem, an engineer in Hanoi's Nam Tu Liem district, is very concerned about fire prevention in the building where his family lives. He often holds classes to raise awareness and share fire safety knowledge with his neighbors in the building.
"I work in construction projects and also in the field of fire prevention and firefighting. With the experience of the heartbreaking fire that claimed 56 lives, I also want to improve everyone's knowledge of fire safety and how to use safety equipment," Liem told The Hanoi Times.
The recent tragic inferno in Hanoi is now the deadliest fire in Vietnam in 21 years, after the ITC shopping mall fire in Ho Chi Minh City that killed 60 people in 2002.
PM urges stricter fire prevention and management in multi-story residential buildings
The fact that many buildings in major cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City fail to meet construction and fire safety requirements is currently endangering the lives of thousands of people in Vietnam.
Students practice fire prevention at the headquarters of the Fire Prevention and Fighting Police Department on October 7. Photo: Suckhoedoisong.vn
In an official dispatch signed on October 22, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has therefore asked ministries and localities to enhance fire prevention and firefighting work, as well as to tighten the construction management of multi-story residential buildings.
"In some localities, many buildings have been built without following construction regulations, planning, and fire prevention and control requirements, posing great risks to dwellers. Regular inspection, supervision, and evaluation should be carried out, and the responsibilities of relevant units, organizations, and individuals should be clarified and violations strictly handled," the dispatch said.
It added that for new projects, local authorities must strictly check their compliance with legal regulations on planning, construction, and fire prevention and firefighting. They are asked to complete reviews and evaluations in the fourth quarter of this year and submit measures to the government for consideration.
In particular, the Ministry of Information and Communications is required to step up communication activities to raise awareness among organizations and individuals about complying with laws on planning, building permits, construction regulations, and fire and explosion management for high-rise residential buildings, and to take measures to prevent and minimize damage in the event of incidents.