Fri, Apr 01, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Fire amendments pass initial review

NO MORE SKY LANTERNS?The amendments state that those who burn grass or other items on farms, or release sky lanterns without permission could be fined NT$3,000

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter

Following a blaze that killed nine people in Greater Taichung City last month, lawmakers across party lines reached a consensus during an initial review yesterday to pass amendments to the Fire Services Act (消防法) that would prohibit the use of flames in indoor performances.

The fire at a nightclub in Greater Taichung on March 6 not only shocked the public, but also raised awareness of fire safety in public venues.

Investigations into the blaze at the nightclub found that the ceiling above the stage caught fire when a male dancer was performing a “fire dance.”

The finding quickly led to calls to outlaw the use of flames in indoor performances — including “torch shows” at some banquets. In those performances, chefs lead kitchen staff in delivering the first dish with a fire show with torches, a practice that many consider dangerous.

According to amendments that passed the initial review yesterday, use of flames in performances without the permission of government authorities would be subject to a fine of up to NT$150,000. Meanwhile, burning grass or other items on farms, or releasing sky lanterns without permission, would be subject to a fine of up to NT$3,000.

Sky lanterns are an important tourist attraction in Pingxi District (平溪), New Taipei City (新北市), and are especially popular during the Lantern Festival.

“The purpose [of the proposed -amendments] is to reduce the chances of irreversible disasters caused by the inappropriate use of fire,” said Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), who presided over the meeting yesterday after the Internal Administration Committee meeting.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Nai-shin (蔣乃辛), who was among the first to propose a ban on indoor use of flames, welcomed the passage and said that if there had been laws like this before, it could have prevented the tragedy in Greater Taichung.

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