KUALA LUMPUR: The Fire and Rescue Department can, and will, remove illegal structures and “blockades” that stall and prevent firefighting efforts.
Assistant fire commissioner Wan Mohd Zaidi Wan Isa said these hindrances included boom gates and guard posts that were built against the limits underlined by the Uniform Building Bylaws (UBBL).
Residents’ associations, which make routes into neighbourhoods inaccessible to firemen and their fire engines, he said, would also be dealt with under the Fire Services Act 1988 (FSA).
“If we find that the premises have removable structures that pose a fire hazard, we will get them to dismantle them immediately. But if they require more work, then we will issue the association with the fire-hazard abatement notice,” he said.
The act makes those who fail to comply with the underlined requirements punishable with a fine not exceeding RM5,000, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.
The offender could also be liable to a further fine of RM100 for each day the offence continued after a conviction.
Wan Mohd Zaidi said developers who failed to comply with provisions under the UBBL would also risk having their projects declared “unfit for occupancy”.
“Developers must ensure that their projects comply with the provisions, even at planning stage, or face having their Certificate of Complete and Compliance (CCC) rejected.
“After completing construction, the Fire and Rescue Department will conduct checks to make sure that the premises are built in accordance with the law before the CCC is issued.
“Building owners who carry out modifications (upon receiving the CCC) that obstruct firemen from carrying out their duties can also be charged under the FSA.”
Wan Mohd Zaidi said gated and guarded communities must ensure that all their entry and exit routes were more than 6m wide, gantries more than 4m wide, and vehicles up to 4.6m high are able to pass through.
“If they put a roof over the gantries, they should not be lower than 4.5m,” he said, adding that the department’s largest vehicle was 3.9m high.
The department, Wan Mohd Zaidi said, also had the power to shut down premises with serious fire-safety issues.
“If we feel the situation is dire, for example, if a building is at risk of catching fire or lacks access routes, we can enforce Section 13 of the FSA and close it down.”
On irresponsible residents who parked haphazardly and blocked roads that made it difficult for fire engines to respond to emergencies, he said the root of the problem was too great for the department to act on.
Enforcing the FSA in this case, he said, would not solve the problem, especially in high-rise residential areas.
This was why, he said, the UBBL, which was amended in 2012, made it compulsory for access roads to be more than 6m wide, excluding the width of parking bays and other obstructions.
“We are unable to fully enforce the FSA because of the serious parking problems... That is why we tried to tackle this with the amended UBBL.
“We experienced difficulties, especially in low-cost apartments, because they have limited parking bays. So, those residing there are forced to park their vehicles on both sides of the roads.
“We have the power to take action against them, but if we do that, there will be a lot of problem for the public.
“So, we have been trying to work around it,” he said, adding that the department’s hands were “technically” tied.
He cited the case in Putrajaya, where signs prohibiting indiscriminate parking were largely ignored because of the “critical” parking-space problem.