Fire! Fire!

Earlier in the day, while I was chatting with Wuan on the phone, an awful smell wafted in through the window. Initially, I thought someone was using an overly strong floor cleaner but when I saw black smoke drifting past, I immediately looked out the window. Black smelly smoke was belching out from one of the windows from an apartment just below mine.

It was Peter?s neighbour. So I called him but he was already busy with the fire fighting effort. I did not know the extent of the fire and thought it would be best to go down to ground level and be away from the fire. I wondered if I should put on a diaper, just in case, but decided against it. It would take too long.

Fortunately, it was just a small fire. A table fan somehow caught fire but was discovered early. There was some damage to the furnishings but nothing major. Accidents like these do happen, due to carelessness or electrical faults. However, I am extremely dissatisfied with the response of the security guards in managing this incident. Below is the letter that I am sending to the Manager of the apartments where I am staying regarding this matter.

If you do not already know, a fire broke out at 31B-19-4 today at approximately 2:25pm. The guardhouse was promptly notified. I am extremely disappointed that the guards arrived at the scene of the incident only after the fire was extinguished. At the first instance when a fire is reported, the security guard posted at the respective Blocks should take control of the situation. If your security guards were not trained in fire fighting, then they should have been instructed to notify residents staying in the immediate vicinity and if the situation warrants, evacuate them in an orderly manner. None of these were done. Lives were at stake and your security guards were acting in a lackadaisical attitude which is truly appalling.

As the Manager of the four blocks of apartment here, it is your responsibility to ensure the security and safety of all residents at all times. I would like to know what contingency plans you have in the event of a major fire or emergencies. Surely, for the amount of management fees and security guard fees that are being charged to the management fund every month, you must have already drawn up a strategy to ensure the safety of residents here.

In addition, despite protests from parcel owners, you have been grossly irresponsible in continuing to allow cars to be parked at the driveway in such a manner that they will obstruct the movement of fire engines and ambulances. This will seriously impede rescue and fire fighting attempts. Are you going to wait until lives are lost because of these obstructions before you are ready to consider the safety of residents?

I trust you will furnish all parcel owners and residents here with a copy of the Contingency Plan for Fire and Emergencies within fourteen days to see if any amendment is needed. This will allow us to reside here with a peace of mind knowing that our safety and security is being looked after. However, if there is no such plan, I urge you to immediately initiate a dialogue with parcel owners and put together one for the safety of all residents here.

I hope something positive will come out of this. I believe all high-rise dwellings should have a plan of action for emergencies like fires. The exits are few and the high-density of people living in such a confined space makes it imperative that a systematic evacuation strategy is in place so that no lives are needlessly risked. The emergency services? vehicles should have easy access to the premises to avoid any delay in the rescue and fire fighting. If only lives are put before profit and arrogance, we will surely have a safer environment to live in.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Minion to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. Columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. Principal Trainer at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

21 thoughts on “Fire! Fire!”

  1. You are trying to make a mountain out of a small molehill. There is NOTHING to burn in a table fan except the melting of plastic moulding cover to give you the warning smell!

    If your ELCB (Electrical Leakage Circuit Breaker) is functioning, the current would be cut off.

    What could have the guards done if they appear promptly??

  2. Molehill,
    Perhaps you sleep in an empty room with only a table fan on the floor as a companion. Unlike you, we do have other flamable items in our rooms. Do you know what else was in the room together with the burning table fan? Furniture, mattress, clothes and whatever else that is usually kept in a bedroom. The table that the fan was standing on was burning as well. The ELCB did its job perfectly but the fan together with everything near it was still burning away.

    If the security guards had appeared promptly, they could have informed those staying on the same floor, above and below of the fire and precautionary measures could have been taken by the residents. That is the least they security guards could do for the obscene amount of money we are paying for their services monthly.

  3. sometimes major fire do start from a burning fan, mind you.

    yes, the security guards should informed the residents on the same floor of the fire and it is up to the residents what they want to do. help put out the fire? evacuate the building? whatever, they should be informed anyway.

  4. Lucia,
    Exactly. It could have been only a burning fan. Had it not been discovered early, I dare not think what the outcome would be. Security guards are employed to ensure the safety of the residents. Unfortunately, some of them do not even know what they are supposed to do.

    James,
    Thank you. As always, I have someone up there who is looking over me.

  5. Lainie,
    For the RM90 service and maintenance charge that I am paying monthly, I do not expect fully-trained guards but I certainly do not expect the management to employ a geriatric guard who takes occasional naps while on duty which is exactly what they are doing now.

  6. Hello Peter,

    I came across your blog by accident. I thought I’d say hi, as a matter of courtesy, because I’d like to add you to my regularly read blogs. I hope you don’t mind. Your strength inspires me. I’m glad I came across your homepage.

  7. Marita,
    Thank you for the vote of confidence. Your blog is no less interesting. I like all the nice images you have put up. Have a nice day.

  8. fires can happen for many reasons. in this case, it was the fan. a small fire can grow big in a matter of seconds. the guards were lacking & irresponsible dat’s for sure.

  9. Oliviasy,
    I do not expect them to fight fires. That is not their job. But I would expect them to inform residents of a fire for us to be prepared for any eventuality.

  10. I really admire your zest for life. Reading your entries has been one awe-inspiring journey. Rock on! ;p (Phil. 4:13)

    God bless.

    “…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9

  11. Deborah,
    Everyday is a struggle but God has sent angels to make sure I am well looked after. Everything is possible with Him.

  12. hi peter,

    like some of your visitors here, i too stumbled upon your website almost by accident..and upon reading your entries, i’ve got to say… your zeal for life is so…inspiring! 😛
    keep it up!

    p.s. could i add your link into my blog?

  13. Sweetspirit,
    Even if there is no response, the residents here ccan initiate a meeting to draw up a plan. After all, our own safety is at stake.

  14. Great letter – i like how you wrote it, firm and yet not placing blame. Hopefully the management will do the necessary.

  15. Prema,
    A responsible management would take heed and take the necessary action to safeguard the residents. I hope the management here has that attitude.

  16. Peter, hope all is well after that earthquake. This is a reflection of the ugly side of some Malaysians who take no interest in the lives of those under their care. Kudos for taking the necessary action to ensure the safety of not only yourself but those of your neighbours.

  17. bohemianlisa,
    This is only the right thing to do when lives are at stake. Still, the people involved do not care. They are more interested in other aspects of management, namely utilising obscene amounts of money for other purposes which is not doing any good for any of us here.

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