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August 4, 2012

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City expects 40 percent more fires

SHANGHAI may face as many as 40 percent more fire emergencies in the next three years amid the aging of some buildings and expansion in new housing projects, said the Shanghai Fire Control Bureau yesterday.

A special firefighting helicopter imported from Russia is to arrive in the city by next May as part of a package of fire control measures, the bureau announced. The heavy fire-control chopper is able to shoot water as far as 45 meters. Shanghai is facing a shortfall in fire-control crew and advanced facilities to tackle the challenges of rapid urbanization and older buildings becoming more vulnerable to fire.

An inferno engulfed a downtown residential building on Jiaozhou Road on November 15, 2010, claiming 58 lives. It highlighted the city's shortcomings in fighting high-rise fires, and the government has since been working on improvements.

The fire authority said it also plans to establish helicopter aprons atop some local skyscrapers as well as at some busy public squares, stadiums and parks in upcoming years.

Government investment will be boosted to increase the number of the city's fire engines by 50 percent to 760 in five years, the bureau said.

It estimated that local firefighters would have to respond to up to 100,000 alarms in 2015. Extra demands also come from the fast expanding subways, tunnels and bridges citywide, said the bureau.

Shanghai will build 30 more standard fire stations across the city in the next five years to make sure crews can reach any spot within 5 minutes, officials said. The bureau yesterday did not say what is the average response time is for firefighters currently.

Smaller stations will also be built in crowded downtown areas, the bureau said.

Officials plan to build special docks along the Huangpu River to respond to emergencies on river cruise ships. The city is seeing a booming cruise ship business on the Huangpu River but there are no professional fire-control docks so far.

Shanghai ports handled over 300,000 passengers taking cruise ships or yachts last year.


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