After fire, CapitaLand Vietnam CEO highlights role of Building Owners’ Committee

April 06, 2018 | 12:40
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After the fire at PARCSpring, a project invested by CapitaLand Vietnam, VIR talked with CEO Chen Lian Pang about the consequences and what the related sides need to do when a fire breaks out.

Regarding the incident at PARCSpring on April 1, 2018, a project invested by CapitaLand Vietnam, what do you think about the role of the developer and the Building Owners’ Committee (BOC)?

The property management of PARCSpring had been handed over from the developer to the BOC about two years ago. During this time, the BOC has contracted an external company for property management services. However, despite this, CapitaLand continued to lend its support to the BOC. In addition, the common areas of the building are insured by CapitaLand Vietnam.

When the fire occurred on the 8th floor, the fire alarm system and the pressurised ventilation both went off promptly. The BOC, together with technical and security staff, responded quickly and did a good job to evacuate the building in time. On the other hand, the board of management of CapitaLand Vietnam was also speedy in lending a helping hand to restore the situation. Overall, we are extremely grateful that no residents were injured during the incident.

We would like to express our thanks to the BOC and District 2’s firefighters for their immediate action to handle the fire, as well as responsible PARCSpring residents who acted according to fire drill instructions.

An official report will be released within a week.

capitaland vietnam ceo highlights role of building owners committee
CEO of CapitaLand Vietnam Chen Lian Pang

In the event of a fire, do you think living in a normal house is safer than in a high-rise apartment?

I do not think so. On the contrary, I believe that living in a high-rise apartment is safer than in a normal house. As high-rise buildings are required to comply with more stringent fire safety regulations and various fire safety measures are taken during the building’s design and construction, they provide residents greater fire protection compared to a normal house without fire protection. A high-rise building’s fire protection system includes fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, mechanical smoke extraction, smoke detectors, fire alarms, and fire-resistant building materials.

For instance, fire-proof doors provided by the developer can withstand fire for up to 70 minutes before collapsing, which could be vital to allow residents to escape and restrict the spreading of the fire between apartments and limits the damage to the building.

Another example would be how the distance from the furthest unit to the emergency staircase is designed to be a maximum of 30 metres by Singaporean standards, however, our projects have an even shorter distance of 25 metres.

To be more specific, CapitaLand designs building with a maximum of 25 metres for one-way escape corridors and 40 metres for two-way escape corridors. Singapore applies 30 metres for one-way and 70 metres for two-way corridors.

Based on your answers, the role of the developer is very important when it comes to fire safety, is it not?

Yes, the role of the developer is important. However, the property management of the building plays a crucial role, too. The developer can provide all required installations for fire protection such as fire alarms and fire sprinklers, but if these installations or equipment are not maintained properly by the property management unit and is faulty during a fire, then all the efforts are put to waste.

At certain developments, residents are eager to form the BOC before the project is fully handed over to homebuyers, to allow the BOC to take over the property management from the developer. However, as a developer, we want to ensure that the majority of our homebuyers are taken care of, and thus do not rush to hand over the responsibility to the BOC too early.

Thus, as a responsible developer, we continue to manage our developments for two years after completion. During this time, we set standards and procedures before handing the property over to the BOC. After that, we still have a dedicated team to inspect and support the property management as well as audit the BOC.

How do you evaluate the fire regulations in Vietnam?

Fire safety regulations in Vietnam are more stringent than in Singapore. Even so, we at CapitaLand aim to exceed the requirements in fire safety design at all our projects. Some examples can be taken as the standard staircase escape door, the fire-proof door, fire coverage, the wet riser, and the maximum travel distance from the units’ main doors to the fire escape staircase.

If Vietnamese fire rules are better than in Singapore, why are cases of fire in Vietnam more serious?

Although Vietnam’s fire regulations are more stringent than in Singapore, implementation depends on the developers and individual residents’ responsibility and awareness of their personal fire safety measures at home.

In addition, the BOC is important in ensuring the maintenance of these fire systems and equipment to function properly in the time of need, as well as by conducting regular fire drills to educate residents on fire escape procedures and routes for their own safety during evacuation.

Currently, fire ladders used by Vietnamese firefighters can only reach the tenth floor of buildings. how can people living in higher floors be rescued?

As long as the property has been built in accordance with fire safety codes, there should be no issues in rescuing residents on higher floors. Residents can exit the building in time, even from higher floors, through the pressurised exit stairwell which keeps fire and smoke from entering the space.

For the safety of residents, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of maintaining a clear path to and inside the staircase. Therefore, please do not litter, damage the doors or place objects within this area for your and others’ safety in the event of a fire.

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