Many tourist hotspots and shopping centres potential fire traps

Many tourist hotspots and shopping centres potential fire traps
The congested Jalan Masjid India in Kuala Lumpur is a good example of a fire trap. Due to the layout of the area and the high number of stalls crowding the walkways and corridors with goods, it is almost impossible for the Fire and Rescue Department to carry out rescue operations should a fire break out.

KUALA LUMPUR - Kuala Lumpur has a lot to offer tourists but there is a gaping hole in the fire safety measures in many of its shopping complexes and tourists hotspots.

Business operators in areas such as Jalan Masjid India, Petaling Street and Little India in Brickfields are paying scant regard to safety, especially in taking preventions against the event of a fire.

StarMetro visited these hotspots and found every inch of available space at the shops as well as stalls set up in these three areas lined with merchandise and other items, even at the staircases, leaving very little room for anything else. These make them a potential fire hazard.

What is more shocking is that the fire hydrants in these areas are either blocked or concealed.

In Little India, Brickfields and Masjid India, fire hydrants are blocked by stall operators who have placed potted plants and buckets there.

This is an offence under Section 26, of the Fire Services Act and Regulations 1988, any person who covers up, encloses, or conceals any fire hydrant so as to render its location difficult to ascertain, or tampers with any fire hydrant, or uses a fire hydrant other than for fire-fighting purposes shall be guilty of an offence and can be fined up to RM100 (S$39) and will be required to take immediate action to rectify it.

Kuala Lumpur's shopping complexes are no better as many with space constraints have maximised floor space by setting up stalls along corridors and even using the space above the air-conditioning to store goods.

Former Fire and Rescue Services director-general Datuk Dr Soh Chai Hock said these areas, which receive hundreds of visitors daily are potential fire hazards, and the operators ill-equipped to handle fires.

"When common passages are used to set up stalls and other items, and staircases piled with goods, fire escape routes become blocked and a potential fire trap,'' said Soh.

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