Authorities target illegal retrofitting of houses

Authorities in Shanghai's suburban areas have launched a series of troubleshooting operations against illegal retrofitting of houses, which could be a fire hazard.

Authorities in Shanghai’s suburban areas have launched a series of troubleshooting operations against illegal retrofitting of houses, which could be a fire hazard.  

The fire control department in Jinshan District closed a group-renting accommodation on Yancao Road last Friday.

The venue was a vacant factory site that a company leased for 40,000 yuan (US$6,045) per month in September. The company turned the venue into residential accommodation. 

The second floor, which has 300 square meters of space, was divided into nine small rooms with the use of foam sandwich panels. Each room has a space of about 30 square meters. The rooms house 52 people. 

The law prohibits the use of foam sandwich panels in interior walls because the material is inflammable. Once ignited, the foam will produce heavy smoke, which can be lethal.

“There was only one powder fire extinguisher and one escape stairway set in the building,” said a fire-control official. “The rooms were a mess, wires were casually entwined on the floor, which was extremely hazardous.”

The authority immediately closed down the accommodation and asked the company to relocate its employees. The owner of the company promised to find a safe accommodation for them within a week.

Other suburban districts are also expanding their efforts to spot potential safety threats in buildings. 

Songjiang District will carry out a series of inspections before Christmas and the New Year to ensure the safety of factory plants and shops. 

A fire-control official in Jiading District said such inspections were being normalized. “We don’t focus on a particular aspect of safety or certain type of buildings, but we aim to stifle all possible threats,” he said.

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