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 called for the attention of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). They are requesting for a re-evaluation of 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. Another broke into the Metro Ayala Department Store in neighboring Cebu the following month on January 5, 2018.
ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay claimed that the consecutive fire incidents exposes the neglect of property owners for fire safety standards. He accused them of cutting costs at the expense of their employee and customer welfare. Regarding the nationwide fire safety audits of shopping malls, he suggested for it to take place prior the summer season to counter the peak fire incidents season in the Philippines.
Fire in NCCC Mall
Just two days before Christmas, a fire broke out at the New City Commercial Center in Davao City. It resulted in the death of 38 people, 37 of which were employees of a BPO company located on the fourth floor. The employees were reported to have struggled to evacuate when the fire exit was congested with thick smog. The other casualty was a security personnel of NCCC. Approximately P1.6 million worth of properties of NCCC was damaged as per BFP Superintendent Honey Fritz Alagano’s report.
The 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. It started in the furniture section of the mall. He disclosed that five BFP Davao personnel were removed from their posts in the investigation following the incident. They credited the NCCC’s Fire Safety Inspection Certificate despite discovering its violations during the inspection.
The 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, along with the BPO registration of the aforementioned company.
Fire in Metro Ayala Department Store
Following the incident in December, another fire broke out at the Metro Ayala Department Store in Ayala Center Cebu. In the evening of January 5, a fire ignited the stockroom of the toys department on the third floor. It eventually caused the fourth floor to collapse. The Metro Ayala Emergency Brigade Team and Ayala Center Cebu Emergency Brigade Team 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 evacuated successfully. Currently, the Bureau of Fire Protection-Central Visayas is conducting an investigation to reveal any violations. This follows claims that the sprinklers of the mall malfunctioned when the fire broke out.
Anderson Group BPO Sympathizes
Anderson Group BPO knows that there is no better way to console the families of the victims than to promote and ensure a safe work environment for everyone. With this, AGBI ensures safety facilities and policies in place in case of any unfortunate incident. Among other efforts to ensure the safety and security of all its sites, AGBI has a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that caters both short and long-term disruptions. These include disasters such as fires, floods, earthquakes, explosions, typhoons, and much more. This guarantees the following. The order of objectives is 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.