ON June 2, 2017, firefighters recovered 38 bodies from the Resorts World hotel in Paranaque City after a deranged gambler set fire on its casino area. The victims died from smoke inhalation.
By coincidence, 37 call center workers may have suffered the same fate in the fire at the NCCC mall in Davao City on Saturday morning. From the two incidents, toxic smoke proved deadlier for all victims than the fire itself.
For those who may have been burned to death, maybe they were already dead from smoke poisoning before flames gutted their bodies. So, despite all the fire safety drills, extinguishers and permits from the Bureau of Fire Protection, why do those victims have to die?
Well, because fire extinguishers and water hoses don’t extinguish deadly smoke. Surely, the BFP knows this but why does it require buildings to have only fire extinguishers, smoke alarm, sprinklers and fire escapes when these were useless against smoke in the Resort World and NCCC mall fire cases? Why not require buildings to have oxygen masks and tanks on standby also? Or a smart exhaust system that redirects smoke away from trapped people inside a building on fire?
Of course, it’s expensive to deploy hundreds of oxygen masks and tanks in BPO and hotel buildings, which are usually packed with people day and night. But it’s more expensive to face victim’s families in court and pay damages when such case loses.
So let’s rethink and improve the current fire safety schemes to save lives in the future.