The Taipei City Government is to inspect the fire-alarm systems at all Cashbox Partyworld KTV branches, as well as all other KTVs and movie theaters in the city, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday, one day after a blaze at the Cashbox Partyworld KTV branch on Linsen N Road killed five people.
Taipei Fire Department Commissioner Wu Jun-hung (吳俊鴻) said the first report of the fire was received at 10:57am, and the fire was extinguished within 27 minutes, while 156 customers in the KTV’s private rooms were rescued.
Ninety-five people sought medical treatment after the fire, including 54 sent to nearby hospitals by department personnel, he said.
Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times
The Cashbox Partyworld branch had been inspected many times between 2018 and March 30, and had passed its twice-a-year safety inspections last month as well as in October last year, he said.
However, although the branch had submitted a renovation application to the Taipei Construction Management Office, it had not given a fire protection plan for the renovation process to the department, he said.
A primary investigation found that the fire broke out in a storage room in the northwest corner of the building, and that the building’s five fire protection systems, including the smoke extraction system, had been turned off, which is why many people suffered smoke inhalation.
Ko said that he visited some of the injured people in three hospitals on Sunday evening: One was on life support in intensive care, while seven were on tracheal intubation.
The city government launched four measures to deal with the aftermath of the fire, the first being the Department of Social Welfare and Department of Civil Affairs establishing a task force to provide one-on-one assistance to the victims, he said.
The second is a task force launched by the Department of Social Welfare and the Department of Legal Affairs to help the victims and Cashbox KTV’s management deal with compensation and legal matters, he said.
The third is a new inspection of all KTVs, movie theaters and enclosed public spaces, especially all the Cashbox Partyworld KTV branches, which would not be able to operate if they do not pass the inspections, Ko said.
The fourth would be an investigation into the fire and why the fire protection systems were turned off, he said, adding that all information would be turned over to prosecutors.
The Construction Management Office and the Taipei Fire Department would impose the severest possible punishments if evidence of misconduct is found, he added.
Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) said the plan is to complete all the KTV and movie theater inspections within a week.
The city plans to conduct more frequent and unscheduled inspections, to ensure that business owners take fire safety matters seriously, as strict regulations are not enough if people do not follow them, she said.
The fire department helps business owners conduct fire drills, but the question is whether management takes such drills to heart, she added.
If the building’s sprinkler and smoke extraction systems had been working on Sunday, there might have been be fewer victims, Huang said.
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