The developer of the 34-story apartment building that caught fire in Hanoi on Sunday has failed to comply with fire safety regulations, but still sold its apartments to residents, a local firefighting official said on Monday.
Colonel Nguyen Van Son, deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Fire Prevention and Control and Rescue and Salvage Police, made the complaint against Hanoi-based Lai Chau Private Construction Enterprise No. 1, the developer of the CT4 apartment building in Ha Dong District, which was on fire for two hours and a half on Sunday.
Officials have not approved the fire and explosion safety level of the building because its developer has not met the requirements set out by the local fire agency, Col. Son said.
Despite this, the developer has sold the apartments in the building to residents, the official said, considering this a violation of the current fire and explosion safety regulations.
The building’s emergency exits are not safe, Col. Son said, adding the staircases are not equipped with fans for smoke ventilation and to let fresh air in.
The developer also fails to meet technical requirements on preventing the spread of fire, the official said.
In addition, the fire-extinguishing water pump does not meet the required capacity while the building has no automatic fire extinguishing system on the above-ground floors, among other violations, according to the colonel.
Once fined for violations
In July 2015, the department had a meeting with Lai Chau Private Construction Enterprise No. 1 on fire safety issues and fined it VND133 million (US$5,950) for four violations.
The agency requested that the developer submit a report on its correction of the infringements before October 15.
Colonel Doan Huu Thang, a senior fire official at the Ministry of Public Security, emphasized that the developer was wrong to let people live in the apartment building while its fire prevention and control system had yet to be approved.
Col. Son, the deputy director, said that Lai Chau Private Construction Enterprise No. 1 had a history of ignoring fire safety-related requirements set out by the department dating back to 2014.
The department had sent a confidential report to the Hanoi People’s Committee requesting that officials not license new projects implemented by this enterprise in the capital.
It also asked the committee to urge the central government and the Ministry of Construction not to license the enterprise’s projects that fail to meet fire safety benchmarks.
“Before living in apartment buildings and other multistory constructions, people should know whether those facilities have been approved in terms of fire safety,” Col. Son advised.
He also expressed concern about the situation whereby many families living in apartment buildings did not attend meetings held on site by local fire agencies.
“Many households pay no attention to such meetings and only send their domestic workers to attend them,” the official said.
Hanoi now has 121 multistory buildings that have yet to be approved in terms of fire prevention and control safety, as their developers have yet to abide by relevant regulations, he warned.
The fire on Sunday evening allegedly broke out from the transmitter station in the basement and rose upward, trapping hundreds of people in the building before they were rescued, authorities reported.
Thousands of residents rushed down from the upper floors in order to escape the building, and dozens of people feeling choked with smoke were taken to hospital.
The blaze claimed no lives but destroyed about 200 motorbikes and 45 bicycles, and damaged many other vehicles.
“Before the fire occurred, signs of instability in the building’s electrical system appeared and then an explosion was heard,” Col. Son said, citing the information collected after the flames.
Police are continuing to examine the scene to identify the cause of the fire, the official said, adding that compensation for people affected by the fire will depend on the conclusion of the investigation agency.