Electric faults cause majority of fires: CB

Electricity-related issues are the cause of the higher number of fires in Macau, the Fire Services Bureau (CB) announced today in the presentation of their annual activity report.

According to the statement, of the 816 cases of fire recorded in 2022 (-4.23%), the majority related to short circuits and malfunctioning electric equipment.

This was also the cause of the recent blazes that affected street hawkers’ stalls at Fai Chi Kei.

Other reasons mostly related to the burning of incense, joss papers, candles, and other religious items as well as cooking accidents. According to CB figures, in 2022 the brigade was called to 170 fires caused by burned food.

In total, the number of emergency call-outs for firemen rose 25.57% last year, equating to 11,694 more cases than in 2021.

Contributing significantly to this rise was the number of calls from ambulances which increased 24.72%. As the report explained, this was mostly due to the need for the CB to cooperate with health authorities in the transportation of confirmed Covid patients during the pandemic (until December 2022).

“With the entry of the transition period of the epidemic in Macau, at the end of last year, the cases related to the calls from ambulances from the CB have registered a sharp increase in a short period, reaching an average of 400 calls per day,” Commander Leong Iok Sam said, emphasizing the acute emergency for the CB at the time.

Leong noted that many of the cases were considered “abusive” which contributed to the 46.21% increase in the “special cases” item of the report. According to the figures collected, about half of all calls for ambulances in Macau are considered abusive.

Leong advanced that there is a slow return to some normality with the number of calls from ambulances currently around 150 per day.

Three fined under fire safety for buildings

A total of three people have been fined by the CB under the new Legal Regime on Fire Safety of Buildings and Sites that entered into force on last August 17, Leong said yesterday. He noted that officially the CB only started to apply sanctions from October 17 after a period where warnings alone were issued.

Concerning the three closed cases that have resulted in fines, the CB said that the fines issued were due to the placing of pushcarts, chairs, cabinets and shoe racks in the common areas of the buildings that are considered escape routes and emergency exists in case of fire.

Such cases are considered serious administrative offenses under the new law.

Leong added that, in two of the three cases, the residents have already paid the fines.

Intelligent firefighting solutions in operation

In reply to an inquiry from the media, the Commander also noted that the equipment acquired by the CB under the intelligent firefighting program is already in operation. It includes remotely operated surveillance cameras at the control center to provide decision-makers with a clear overview of the operations theater even when they are not on-site. The new equipment also includes drones for inspecting blazes in locations with difficult access, providing a fast and more accurate picture of the situation to aid the decision-making. These drones can also be used for incidents that are not fire-related to help assess the deployment of emergency rescue resources, Leong remarked. Leong gave the example of landslides and other situations that require the immediate deployment of search and rescue teams.

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