Fire incidents at NCCC Mall in Davao and Metro Ayala Department Store in Cebu prompt call for nationwide fire safety inspection.
On January 7, 2017, the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) has forwarded the need for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to re-evaluate the compliance to fire safety standards of shopping malls across the country. The call strongly stems from the fires that broke out in NCCC Mall in Davao last December 23, 2017, and in Metro Ayala Department Store in Cebu last January 5, 2018.
ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay claimed that the consecutive fire incidents just show the neglect among property owners of fire safety standards. He accused them of reducing costs at the expense of the welfare of their employees and customers. Regarding the nationwide fire safety audits of shopping malls, he suggested for it to take place prior the summer season because that’s when most fire incidents occur in the Philippines.
Fire in NCCC Mall
It was just two days before Christmas when a fire broke out at the New City Commercial Center in Davao City. More specifically, the fire started on the third floor, where the furniture section of the mall is located. This resulted in the death of 38 people, 37 of which were employees of a BPO company located on the fourth floor of the mall. The employees were said to struggle to evacuate because the fire exit was already filled with thick smog. The other person left was a security personnel of NCCC. Approximately P1.6 million worth of properties of NCCC was damaged as per BFP Superintendent Honey Fritz Alagano.
Inter-agency Anti-Arson Task force spokesperson and BFP Fire Superintendent Jerry Candido said that an electrical short circuit at the ceiling of the third floor caused the fire. He furthered that five BFP Davao personnel were removed from their posts after learning that they still gave the Fire Safety Inspection Certificate to NCCC despite learning its violations during the inspection. NCCC’s violations comprise the lack of the following:
- Automatic fire suppression system
- Functioning sprinkler system on the third floor
- Smoke- and heat-proof fire exits
Currently, the Inter-agency Anti-Arson Task Force is still in the process of collating files to name the people to be held accountable for the tragic fire incident. Meanwhile, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has suspended the economic zone registration of NCCC Mall, alongside the BPO registration of the aforementioned company.
Fire in Metro Ayala Department Store
In the evening of January 5, a fire broke out at the Metro Ayala Department Store in Ayala Center Cebu. Specifically, the fire broke out in the stockroom of the toys department on its third floor, eventually causing the fourth floor to collapse. The Metro Ayala Emergency Brigade Team and Ayala Center Cebu Emergency Brigade Team have worked with numerous emergency response teams such as the BFP-Central Visayas to put out the fire.
It was only at 12:45 pm on January 7 when BFP-Central Visayas confirmed that the fire in the mall is under control. Fortunately, all customers and personnel have been evacuated successfully. Currently, the Bureau of Fire Protection-Central Visayas is conducting an investigation to reveal the violations of the mall if any. This follows after claims that the sprinklers of the mall did not function when the fire broke out.
Anderson Group BPO Sympathizes
Anderson Group BPO knows that there is no better way to condole with the families of the victims than to further promote and ensure a safe work environment for everyone. With this, AGBI ensures safety facilities and policies in place in case of unfortunate occurrences. Among many other efforts to ensure safety and security of all its sites, AGBI has a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that caters for both short and long-term disruptions such as fires, floods, earthquakes, explosions, typhoons, and much more. This is to guarantee the fulfillment of the following objectives, with the order set in terms of priority:
- Ensure the safety of employees and visitors in the office building
- Mitigate the threats or limit the damage that threats can cause
- Have advanced preparations to ensure that critical business functions can continue
- Have documented plans and procedures to ensure the quick and effective execution of recovery strategies for critical business functions
Anderson Group BPO commits to keeping these tragic incidents from ever happening again. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to all the victims’ families.