Friday, September 26, 2008

Shenzhen Gov't Takes Action After Deadly Fire & Stampede at Club

Almost a week ago now a fire at a nightclub in Longgang district in Shenzhen left at least 43 people dead and another 45 people injured. During a show, fireworks ignited the ceiling tiles overhead causing a fire. While the fire was relatively small, it ignited panic that caused a stampede out of the club. News outlets from China and all over the world covered the event.

I personally have never been to the Longgang area. It is as far and different from my Luohu and Nanshan clubs as the Bronx would be for Meatpacking district Manhattan. (So thank you to all of my friends who messaged me asking if I was ok).

Fire safety awareness in China is very lax. Whether lack of awareness is from ignorance or intentional I dont know. It is, however a big reason why a lot of fatal fires have occurred in China's public places (To be fair, fires in NYC clubs have been frequent as well). While there are proper stairwells and emergency exits, most are not maintained well. Poor lighting and using it as storage are the major problems. While there are solid and concrete laws on the books, the implementation and enforcement of these laws are lax until an event like this takes place (again, just as i've seen in NYC). Also, Chinese clubs really try to pack people into a small amount of space. Even for really big bars and clubs, there are soo many tables and chairs that walking around is incredibly difficult, not to mention any kind of reaction to a fire.

Since the fire, local government have taken action. My friends have mentioned that popular bars like Ubar, Yellow, Face, and others all over Shenzhen have shut down temporarily due inspections for safety. While some opened back up immediately, others that don’t conform to standards are still closed.

Bars and clubs are not the only issue either. These fire safety problems are present in office buildings, hospitals and other facilities as well. My hope is that the Shenzhen gov't will actively address all of these issues in light of the recent event.

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