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November 17, 2010

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Expert calls for changes to tanks

WATER tanks atop high-rises should be altered so they can support firefighting needs as well as provide water to residents, one of the city's disaster prevention officials said yesterday in the wake of Monday's deadly inferno.

"I am in huge pain after what happened," said Huo Enjie, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Disaster Prevention Association.

Huo said he witnessed the blaze.

"I was leading a meeting in a nearby high-rise when the fire broke out. After observing the flames and smoke, I knew the situation was going to turn terrible," Huo said.

The height of the 28-story building proved to be a major obstacle for firefighters, who had to shoot water from a neighboring building to put out the blaze. They had trouble directing water to the upper floors of the apartment building, Huo said.

"Many high-rises in Shanghai have water-supply tanks. If they can be refitted to support firefighting purposes, they may contribute greatly to controlling fires," Huo said.

Special tubes could be added around the tanks so that firefighters can use water when battling blazes, Huo said.

"If firefighters could have shot water from the top floor down, the situation might have been controlled more quickly," he said.

Huo urged construction authorities to improve measures when using safety nets. Huo said the authority should make a rule that more fire proof materials be used when welding work is being done.


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