Busan blaze embarrassment

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Busan blaze embarrassment

The recent fire at an indoor shooting range in Busan that killed 10 people exposed our society’s inveterate numbness and insensitivity to safety risks despite an embarrassing track record of accidents.

The latest incident made international news as most of the victims were tourists from Japan. The fire was caused by oversights in basic and fundamental safety precautions typically witnessed only in underdeveloped societies.

It is common sense that fire prevention measures should be given top priority when building a facility that deals with explosive firearms.

Installing visible fire exits in any commercial building, for that matter, is a no-brainer.

But the shooting range ignored the nuts and bolts of safety measures. The interior was decorated with wooden material and the smoking lounge had a sofa in it - all able to catch fire easily and produce toxic smoke. The rooms were tightly closed off with small barred windows for security and soundproofing reasons.

It is no wonder, then, that a fire on the second floor in the middle of the day caused so many casualties.

It is also incomprehensible that the shooting range was authorized to conduct business within a bustling, crowded marketplace, which can hinder actions to respond quickly and efficiently to fires.

An indoor shooting range can be licensed if it meets fire safety guidelines, and under current law there are no restrictions on where such operations can set up shop.

But there must be more oversight on these businesses considering they deal with explosives.

At the disaster site, some 16,000 bullets were found in cartridge cases. If they were caught up in the blaze, the accident could have been catastrophic in such a crowded marketplace.

Fire accidents often are caused by human mistakes. We should have learned our lessons by now, and we as a nation look quite silly trying to close the barn door after the horse is out.

Meticulous safety measures and stringent supervision would reflect the country’s strength and caliber.

We must raise our safety awareness to the level befitting an advanced country and solemnly pay respect and our condolences to the victims of the blaze and their families.
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