TAGBILARAN CITY – Concerns about fire safety in malls and other buildings located in densely populated areas in Tagbilaran City have been raised following mall fire incidents in Davao and Cebu cities.
A Bohol Tribune source said the city should throw its weight around and use its police powers with an emphasis on fire safety, particularly in malls and other similar establishments.
The city government is in the midst of renewing business permits and can use the opportunity to revisit fire safety measure in various establishments especially those located in densely populated areas, the source said.
Safety concerns have become a hot topic on social media sites following the harrowing fire that gutted an NCCC mall in Davao City recently and the blaze that razed down Metro Gaisano Mall in Ayala, Cebu on Friday.
In a text message to the Tribune, City Mayor John Geesnell “Baba” Yap said that the city government is aware of the possible scenarios, noting that they have taken measures to ensure the safety of the public in case a similar incident would occur here.
He said the city’s Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) is ready for any fire incident that may happen in the city.
The city has its own fire truck and a tanker in case of conflagration.
The mayor assured, as a renewal of business permits is ongoing, fire safety inspections will be conducted.
A source said the city fire inspectors should look into the fire sprinklers, suitability of fire exits and the provision of fire extinguishers.
The issue of fire sprinklers, suitability of fire exits, and fire alarms came about when the system failed during the height of the fire that hit the NCCC Mall in Davao that led to the loss of 37 lives – all were call center workers who had an office at the fourth floor of the mall building.
In reports, some of the survivors said the sprinklers did not initiate in time when the fire inside the mall started to build up as the fire alarm did not go off.
The victims got trapped and met their painful deaths, in one of Davao’s worst fire incidents.
The investigation revealed the cause of the Davao mall fire was faulty electrical wiring.
CEBU’S BLAZING FIRE
As of 8 pm last night, the fire that hit Metro Gaisano Ayala still rages with some areas still burning, according to various sources. Local disaster officials said it might take two days before the fire could be put out.
As the fire is being put out, haze swirled near the vicinity of Archbishop Reyes in Cebu. The situation prompted disaster officials to issue a haze alert for people who may have respiratory problems and living nearby the razed mall.
In a statement, Metro Retail Stores Group Inc, the owner of Metro Gaisano Ayala, assured the public all personnel and customers were safely evacuated before the fire became too big.
“The Metro and Ayala Center Cebu Emergency Brigade teams are closely working with the Bureau of Fire Protection and other emergency response teams to manage the situation,” said Vincent Tomaneng, chief legal counsel of Metro Retail Stores Group, Inc.
The mall management is closely coordinating with mall merchants on operational concerns.
The fire reportedly began at the 6-story department store’s toy stockroom at around 9:30 Friday evening.
Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Nagiel Banacia said the fire was limited to two portions of the Metro Gaisano Mall as of 8 pm last night.
The firefighters were trying to figure out the extent of the fire and to decide whether or not to declare the fire is under control.
The fire was considered in progress but contained. Firefighters made sure the fire did not spread to the main mall area.
No declaration was made as of last night. (Dave S. Albarado)