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Instant fire prevention steps urged
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-02-17 23:46

Prompted by the recent catastrophic fires, top fire control authorities Tuesday urged fire prevention departments around the nation to take instant steps.

"The fire control situation has suddenly become grave especially since February when 28 disastrous fires were reported between the 13 and 15, killing 140 people," said Guo Tienan, head of Fire Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security.

He spoke ahead of the annual meeting of China's National People's Congress.

Lingering droughts in many parts of China and a lack of fire prevention awareness have resulted in the outbreak of these fires, Guo said during a televised conference.

The recent blazes have added insult to injury to the 1,200 forest fires that were reported throughout the country such as in Guangxi, Fujian, Hunan, Hubei and Zhejiang since January, said officials in charge of forest fire control at the conference.

The annual number of fires has exceeded 200,000 for several years. To some, the number is a sign China should improve its fire prevention efforts.

The bureau's statistics indicated that there were 250,000 fires last year. The death toll was 2,497. A total of 3,098 people were injured. Direct financial losses were 1.59 billion yuan (US$191.6 million).

Guo said a thorough anti-fire campaign will be launched, along with a nationwide safety overhaul on all workplaces at the request of the State Council last week.

The fire control campaign will focus on places where large groups of people gather, skyscrapers, underground projects and places where dangerous chemical products are piled, he said.

"Through the (campaign), fire control departments at all levels should comb out hidden fire perils by establishing files as well to record the rectification measures," Guo said.

Places that fail to meet safety requirements or where serious hidden perils exist, will be forced to rectify the situation and stop operating until that's done, said Bai Jingfu, MPS' vice-minister.

Moreover, Bai said fire control departments should set up various levels of responsibility to look up the causes of fire disasters and punish any offenders.

To curb forest fires, the State Forestry Administration will send four groups of officials to inspect the issue in some of the more vulnerable provinces and autonomous regions.

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