Steps to Make Firefighting SaferIn the small hours of Sunday morning, six firefighters were killed when a residential building at Hongje-dong in Seoul collapsed on them. Three more were seriously injured. They met with tragedy when they returned to the house after the fire was put out to check if there were more people to rescue.
They sacrificed themselves in the name of humanity. Among those who died in the line of duty, one firefighter was to marry in a week and another lived with his mother in her 70s. These details pain many people who have heard the news.
The fire station says that the blaze was difficult to bring under control because the house was located at the end of a side street about six meters wide and 15 meters long, jammed with cars parked on both sides.
Another road, from Hongje Subway Station to the fire site, was eight meters in width and 100 meters in length, but fire trucks could advance only within 50 meters, again impeded by parked cars.
About 4:30 in the morning, 40 minutes after the fire erupted, a water sprinkler managed to approach the 6-meter side street. With great difficulty, the firefighters connected their hoses to a hydrant attached to a wall of the street. It is crystal clear that it took a long time before they could start working. If they could have controlled the fire at an earlier stage, they might not have lost their lives.
On the occasion of this accident, the relevant authorities should come forward to solve the problem of illegal parking on the side streets of residential areas.
Since last year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has launched a project to designate side streets as one-way and to build communal parking lots. This project should be expanded.
In addition, the authorities must check whether there was not some problem in the method of fighting the fire.
The house that caught fire on Sunday was more than 30 years old. Nevertheless, the firefighters entered it without a safety check on the possibility of collapse.
Of course, it is not easy to conduct a prior check in such an urgent situation. But isn't there an old saying, "Take a detour when you are in a hurry"?
To ensure that the firefighters' sprit of sacrifice not go waste, these inferior working conditions should be revamped as well.