Following a fire that partially damaged a historic temple in Taipei last week, the Ministry of the Interior said it would increase fire safety inspections of temples to prevent further fires.
“The end of the year to the beginning of the Lunar New Year is a period of time where traditional religious festivities are held more frequently, so we will work harder on safety inspections to prevent fire hazards,” Deputy Minister of the Interior Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) said.
He said that since most temples would stock up fireworks and firecrackers prior to religious festivities, the inspections would focus on making sure such explosives are stored safely.
“We will also make sure that all temples have applied for temporary permits for shooting off firecrackers and fireworks during festivities, and fine those that are found to have violated regulations,” he said.
A fire damaged the entry hall of the 154-year-old Qingshan Temple (青山宮) in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華) on Tuesday.
No one was hurt in the fire, which badly damaged several historic statues of Taoist immortals and deities.
The blaze raised concerns about the fire safety of temples, but Hsiao said the interior ministry has paid attention to the issue for a long time.
“Normally, we conduct a fire safety inspection of a temple every six months. We will increase the frequency to once a week during festival time,” Hsiao said. “As of September, we have conducted 36,702 inspections on temples across the country this year.”
While the government is putting more effort into fire safety at temples, Hsiao also called on temple administrators and the public to be more cautious.
“We may check whether firecrackers and fireworks are stored safely in a temple, however, we will not be able to check for electrical wiring shorts that could spark fires,” he said.
“We may be able to make sure that temples apply for permits on shooting firecrackers and fireworks, but we cannot control when people participating in the festivities bring their own fireworks and firecrackers,” he said.