Hanoi district moves against electric vehicles after fire

By Vo Hai   September 22, 2023 | 04:20 am PT
Hanoi district moves against electric vehicles after fire
Vehicles are parked on the first floor of a mini apartment building in Hanoi's Thanh Xuan District. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Authorities in Hanoi's Thanh Xuan District have requested that electric bikes and motorbikes at mini apartments and high-rise houses for rent be relocated to lower fire risks.

At a conference between the Hanoi Party Committee and city district authorities on Thursday, chairman of the Thanh Xuan District People’s Committee said that following the deadly fire at a mini apartment building on Khuong Ha Street that killed 56 people on September 12, the district has inspected around 90 mini apartments and 1,800 high-rise houses for rent.

Some buildings can have as many as 8-9 floors with 40-50 people living in them.

For fire safety reasons, Thanh Xuan District personnel have requested that electric bikes and motorbikes on the first-floor parking lots of these buildings be relocated.

"It’s good if all of them can be relocated, otherwise we want to aim for 70-80%," said Dung, adding that 90% of fire cases on the first floor are caused by short circuits. Relocating the vehicles away from the buildings would therefore reduce the risk of fire and explosion.

However, Dung did not mention where these electric vehicles would end up, while the number of vehicles currently parked at mini apartment buildings is very high. For example, the apartment building on Khuong Ha Street had around 90 vehicles of various types parked there.

The cause of the deadly fire was determined to be due to a short-circuited petrol motorbike on the first floor.

Dung said local building tenants have disagreed with the district's request to relocate their electric vehicles, saying that if they had already paid for their apartments, they have the right to keep their vehicles on the first floor.

Dung said besides the relocation request, the district has also asked investors to install anti-fire doors on all floors to prevent smoke from invading apartments should fires occur.

The first floors should be equipped with high-volume fire extinguishers, and staircases leading to the roofs must not be locked. People are advised to prepare rope ladders to escape when needed.

Vo Nguyen Phong, director of the municipal Department of Construction, has requested city and district authorities to instruct investors to prepare enough space for the parking of two-wheeled vehicles. Buildings with several apartments must reorganize their parking spaces to ensure there's enough space for vehicles. If there is insufficient space, there must be parking options outside the buildings.

Parking areas should also be separated from the staircases, and be isolated with anti-fire, anti-smoke infrastructure, he added.

Bui Huyen Mai, Thanh Xuan District's Party Secretary, said on Friday that the relocation of electric bikes and motorbikes is "not a district initiative" and is merely a suggestion, not a forced decision.

"The district's stance is to strictly abide by regulations and technical standards regarding fire safety, while not impacting people's lives," she said.

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