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Sub-decree aims to improve fire safety standards in buildings

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:
Firefighters battle a blaze in the capital earlier this month. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The government has issued a sub-decree to strengthen the prevention of fires in buildings by requiring owners to install fire-preventing systems in their buildings.

Issued on Monday and bearing the signature of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the sub-decree aims to set a standard for buildings to be equipped with fire-preventing measures and extinguishing systems.

Neth Vantha, head of the National Police’s fire department, said that the sub-decree will reduce fatalities during fires.

“We have had a difficult time encouraging people to equip fire extinguishers and implement other preventive measures, especially at construction sites,” Mr Vantha said. “Owners of buildings will be able to get recommendations from police officials prior to the start of construction.”

Prior to the sub-decree, building owners weren’t required to install their own fire-prevention systems and building inspections were poorly conducted by experts, he said.

Composed of seven chapters with 27 articles, the sub-decree lays out the management and inspection of buildings to meet the new standards.

Building owners must submit their plans to be verified and recognised by the National Police or provincial police prior to beginning construction. Private residences not tied to commercial activity are not included in the sub-decree.

Police officials will be given the authority to inspect locations and issue sanctions to owners who fail to comply.

Current buildings that do not have preventive measures against fires must also register with the authorities.

More than 400 fires broke out in the first five months of 2018, a 16 percent increase when compared to the previous year.

In February, a blazing inferno engulfed the Rock Entertainment Centre in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district.

Mr Vantha said at the time that the fire had engulfed the entire building and that his team was using 31 fire trucks in an attempt to bring it under control.

In a separate case in the same month, a fire ripped through a Sen Monorom market, destroying 220 of 279 shops inside and leading to the death of two people, a 26-year-old vendor and an 11-year-old.

Mondolkiri provincial Governor Svay Sam Eang said at the time that it was the largest fire to rip through a market in the province.

“Sen Monorom market was built during the 1990s and it has never had a big fire like this before,” he said. “This is the first fire and it killed two people and injured another three.”

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