THE main market at Kampung Chempaka New Village in Petaling Jaya where fire destroyed some buildings in December does not have a fire safety system or fire fighting equipment.
This was discovered by the villagers and the Fire and Rescue Department personnel during a check after the fire that razed six wooden houses.
Three of the houses were illegal factories or storage facilities with one storing charcoal.
A contractor hired by Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) to refurbish the fire safety system at the market said the repairs could be completed by the end of the month.
Contractor M. Rajan explained that the carbon-dioxide tanks in the market’s switch room were empty and had to be refilled.
“Additionally, the fire alert switch panel is not working, you can see it is not lit up, and we also have to repair the hose-reel pump upstairs,” said Rajan during the site inspection, recently.
Damansara Utama assemblyman Yeo Bee Yin, who was also present at the inspection, said RM20,000 had already been allotted by MBPJ for the repair works.
“We did a post-mortem earlier this month after the fire to see how to prevent further fires in the new village, and this prompted the inspection for fire safety in other parts of the village, including the market,” said Yeo.
The tight access routes into the village had taken the fire engine 15 minutes to get from SS2 to the scene.
Damansara Utama Fire and Rescue station’s Senior Fire Officer 2 Jaswant Singh explained that aside from wood as a construction material, the lack of space between structures was another reason for the fire to spread quickly.
“You have the wooden structures built too close together, that they spread faster compared to brick and concrete structures,” said Jaswant.
He also said that the Fire and Rescue Department carried out regular checks each year to ensure fire hydrants were in working order.
The village committee will also conduct a fire-fighting and prevention awareness event at 10am on Jan 31 at the village basketball court in Jalan PJU 1/34.
“We hope to educate villagers with the necessary knowledge on prevention and proper firefighting techniques to put out the fire before it spreads,” said Kampung Chempaka Village Development and Security Committee chairman Theresa Lim.
Yeo added that she, Lim and other JKKK members were trying to work with firefighting equipment vendors, to obtain discounts on extinguishers so that each household could equip themselves.
Currently, the village has its own volunteer fire-fighting team, but the committee would be recruiting more members during the fire-prevention awareness day.
Lim explained that the families affected in last month’s fire had new places in Ara Damansara flats sourced for them, and would be moving in next month. The families also received a RM500 donation each from Yeo’s allocation.