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April 28, 2011

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City to improve downtown fire stations

SHANGHAI will upgrade aging fire stations in downtown districts to better combat high-rise blazes, authorities said yesterday.

Officials said fire stations in central districts are usually small and most were built in the last century, thus they are unsuitable for large, advanced fire engines with ladders that extend up to 90 meters.

But it is precisely these areas most in need of modern fire engines, Vice Mayor Zhang Xuebing said.

He said the city does have advanced fire engines but they are at fire stations in suburban districts. In the event of big blazes, such as last November's Jiaozhou Road inferno that engulfed a residential building and claimed 58 lives, the vehicles can not reach the scene in time, Zhang added.

The vice mayor said the city will renovate older fire stations and possibly even build a large downtown station designed specifically for advanced fire engines.

Officials also admitted the city does not have enough fire stations in suburban districts. One station may cover an area 10 to 20 times larger than the national standard.

Zhang Huafeng, an official with the Shanghai Fire Control Bureau, said four fire stations are being built in suburban areas, which will bring the city's total to 120.

The bureau said 29 people have been killed and 23 others injured in 2,551 fires in the city this year as of Monday.

From January 1 to May 23, 2010, there were 2,059 fires resulting in 24 deaths and 19 injuries across the city.

Of this year's fires, more than 50 percent occurred in residential buildings.

After the Jiaozhou Road blaze, authorities inspected construction sites, shopping centers and other buildings. Of those, 378 businesses were ordered to shut down for failing to meet the city's fire safety regulations.


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