Wed, Apr 27, 2011 - Page 3 News List

NFA promises to boost monitoring of incense shops

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Lin Shu-hui  /  Staff Reporters

The National Fire Agency (NFA) yesterday vowed to reinforce the management of incense shops and publicize their locations to reassure the public after Friday’s deadly explosion in front of a New Taipei City (新北市) incense shop.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) told a press conference that the agency must investigate any irregularities in the manufacture, storage and delivery of fireworks and review its enforcement of the Firework and Firecracker Management Act (爆竹煙火管理條例).

KMT Legislator Justin Chou (周守訓) asked the agency to find all illegal fireworks storage sites in a week and to establish a notification mechanism so people can report possible irregularities to the police.

National Fire Agency Deputy Director-General Chen Wen-lung (陳文龍) said the agency would publicize fireworks manufacturing or storage sites nationwide, and encourage the public to report irregularities to their borough chiefs and local police precincts.

By law, fireworks should not be manufactured or stored in residential areas or mixed residential and commercial districts, Chen said.

There are three legal manufacturers of high-altitude fireworks in the country — two in Chiayi County and one in Miaoli County — which have a total of 33 storage facilities and 19 factories producing ordinary fireworks that are stored in 220 sites, Chen said.

Police are continuing their investigation into Friday’s blast in Wugu District (五股) that killed four people, including the incense shop’s owner, and injured 38. They are trying to determine if the shop owner, Chen Chiu-lung (陳邱隆), had ordered the fireworks, or whether a Taoyuan County fireworks firm had asked him to store the fireworks to evade inspections.

The owner of the 40-year-old fireworks company, surnamed Cheng (鄭), was released on NT$50,000 bail after being questioned by New Taipei City prosecutors.

Police said Cheng and Chen Chiu-lung were close friends and that Chen Chiu-lung would often be asked to help when Cheng’s company landed major contracts, such as setting up fireworks displays for Double Ten National Day or the Taipei International Flora Expo.

Police said the company was told to cease operations following a blast earlier this month, but it still had a large stockpile of fireworks.

Cheng said that he received a call from Chen Chiu-lung last Friday saying he needed fireworks for a big event and so his company agreed to supply them. However, Chen Chiu-lung’s brother said he overheard the conversation and that Cheng had actually asked his brother to help transport and stockpile fireworks so Cheng’s firm could evade safety inspections.

The brother also said Chen Chiu-lung had rented a container in Taishan (泰山), New Taipei City, to store fireworks and had enough to handle an event without having to ask Cheng for more.

Additional reporting by CNA

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