Taoyuan Fire Department Chief Hu Ying-ta (胡英達) has resigned to take responsibility for the deaths of two migrant workers and five firefighters in a factory fire, a spokesman for the city government said yesterday.
Hu’s resignation was approved by Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) at a meeting yesterday morning, city Department of Public Information Director Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said.
According to the fire department, 118 firefighters and 30 emergency and rescue vehicles, including five trucks equipped to fight chemical fires, continued efforts yesterday to completely extinguish the blaze that started on Saturday night at a factory owned by Chin-Poon Industrial Co (敬鵬工業), a printed circuit board company.
Five firefighters and two Thai migrant workers died in the fire, while six other firefighters were injured, one of whom was in critical condition as of Sunday night.
Because flammable chemicals were stored at the plant, firefighters were instructed not to enter the building, the fire department said, urging members of the public to stay away from the area.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has instructed the Ministry of the Interior to conduct a review of fire safety rules.
Tsai yesterday paid her respects to the victims of the fire and extended condolences to the families at a funeral home in the city, before heading to a hospital to visit two firefighters injured in the blaze.
The city’s Department of Environmental Protection plans to ask the company to suspend operations and fine it for causing air and water pollution in the wake of the fire, Cheng said, adding that the factory contained many types of chemicals, including highly flammable and explosive materials, making firefighting at the site a challenge.
The factory also had occupational safety shortcomings that had been found during inspections of the company’s facilities last year and in February, Cheng said.
The city’s Department of Labor has fined the factory several times over the past three years for breaching the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (職業安全衛生法), he said.
The city’s labor department would investigate further to determine whether the fire was caused by breaches of the two laws, Cheng added.
According to Ministry of Labor data, the company has been fined 10 times since last year, including six times for contravening the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The breaches have included not installing locks to chemical pipeline valves and failing to install electricity leakage breakers on high-pressure cleaning machines, the data showed.
Control Yuan member Kao Feng-hsien (高鳳仙) yesterday launched an investigation into the fire.
Among the problems faced by firefighters at the scene was the company’s inability to provide timely information as to the locations of people trapped in the factory, as well as floor plans showing the factory’s layout, National Fire Agency Deputy Director Chiang Chi-jen (江濟人) said.
The Ministry of the Interior has directed the agency to make information such as amounts of toxic chemicals and the locations of facilities that house hazardous chemicals available to firefighters and to include self-protection techniques in rescue and firefighting training programs, Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) said.
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