Shopping malls raise the ire of fire officials

Chen Huizhi
In Minhang District, which has more shopping complexes than any other district, fire authorities carried out inspections together with technicians from a power supply company.
Chen Huizhi

As the holiday season for Chinese people sets in, local fire authorities have stepped up inspections of fire safety at large shopping complexes, finding many hazards in the process.

In Minhang District, which has more shopping complexes than any other district in the city, fire authorities carried out first-round inspections on Thursday together with technicians from a local power supply company.

At Lianhua International Plaza on Humin Road, authorities discovered several problems in the shopping and dining areas.

All shopping malls are required to have fire-resistance shutter doors that are rolled down during a fire to prevent it from spreading. The area around the shutter doors is supposed to be clear.

At Lianhua, however, clothing shelves, café seats and massage chairs were placed in the space behind shutter doors, which authorities said could make firefighting and fire escape more difficult.

At the Harvest Festival restaurant inside the mall, authorities found the fire escape passage had been turned into a storage area with flammable materials like table cloths stored in it. Also, the restaurant illegally built a shed for food delivery with steel panels containing insulation materials that are highly flammable.

At Shunfeng restaurant, half of the ventilation room served as a surveillance office with many appliances, wires and inflammable materials.

At the CMC Grand Cinema, not only was its fire escape route unmarked, it was also blocked by a food square that contained gas — strictly prohibited in crowded places like shopping malls. At an e-cigarette shop outside the cinema, authorities discovered unsafe private wiring.

They also found that part of the mall is being furnished to accommodate workers, which is illegal.

Authorities said they will fine the plaza for the violations they discovered and ordered them to be rectified immediately.

Yu Xiaoping, head of the Minhang firefighting and rescue squad that led the inspection, said large shopping complexes have similar issues managing fire safety.

“Considering the size and number of businesses inside shopping complexes, it’s often difficult for them to assign fire prevention responsibilities and closely monitor fire prevention measures,” Yu said. “So if a fire breaks out, it can also be difficult for the firefighters to deal with it.”

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