Retailers urged to learn fire safety, emergency lessons

National 2 minutes, 3 seconds

BELAIT

RETAILERS should avoid cramping their store displays and inventory to allow accessibility in the event of a fire emergency, said the penghulu of Seria.

In the aftermath of last week’s fire in the heart of Seria town, the penghulu of Seria said that fires hitting businesses operating in cramped settings were harder to contain as the movement of firefighters is limited.

“As we move forward we have to learn our lessons, and work together to implement what has been suggested by the Fire and Rescue Department and the electrical authorities,” Hj Jamail Hj Linap said yesterday.

The penghulu listed the Supasave outlet in Panaga as an example of a retailer with ample aisle space, with a proper evacuation procedure and a meeting point in the event of an emergency.

“When the fire hit Seria, we were caught unprepared.

“How a small fire, initially contained but managed spread uncontrollably and took four hours to control is down to several reasons from electrical to water pressure,” he said.

The Fire and Rescue Department, which estimated the total losses at seven million earlier this week, said an electrical overload, stemming from overuse was the probable cause of the fire outbreak.

Installation of fire hydrants within immediate access, adhering to necessary electrical upgrades, and training staff how to handle fire emergencies are remedial measures that can be taken to minimise future outbreaks, the penghulu added.

“It is unfortunate but there are cases here where owners are told to make necessary upgrades or to do maintenance on their electrical systems, but they delay it or are stubborn,” he said.

He also said plenty could be learned from Brunei Shell Petroleum’s meticulous health and safety inspections and their risk assessment and management strategies.

“When Shell does inspections at Pusat Insani (where my office is) there is nothing that is left unchecked, from the light bulbs to the the computer keyboard,” he said.

Last Friday’s fire which hit one of Seria’s oldest buildings originated from a spark in front of Milimewah past 2pm.

Although the firefighters responded promptly, successfully quelling the fire at its original spot, the building’s electrical system proved combustible, as the fire turned into a blaze within an hour, spreading to four units before it was brought under control shortly after 6pm.

Efforts to put out the final embers lasted late into Friday night, with the last puffs of smoke still seen the morning after.

The Brunei Times