Friday, 14 November 2008

Students killed in Shanghai College Fire this morning.

I read on China Daily this morning that at least four students were killed in a college fire in Shanghai this morning. How tragic! They sadly died after jumping or falling from the balcony of their dormitory, 6 stories up.

Fire preparation is one thing that we do not see here. One of the fears I have with working here in China, is the, well, lack of fire planning. When we asked about it some time ago, we were told that fire isn't such a big problem here, because so many buildings are made of brick or stone, with stone/tiled floors etc and there is little combustible material. I guess if I look around my apartment that is true, except that the cupboards, chairs, tables etc are made of timber, or timber with "plastic" covers. There are curtains, bed linen, cupboard contents etc. It is not hard to find things that might well fuel a blaze or even start one.

But with somewhere between 7000 and 10000 students on the campus in dormitories I do ponder what would happen should a fire break out there.

A few weeks ago I saw a pall of smoke coming from the college about the same time I saw red fire engines, working their way through the narrow street that is near our apartment. Even I could tell that their route to the fire was the longest, and most difficult. If someone had told them to enter via the main gate, they would have got to the fire much quicker.

Today there were two ambulances sirens blaring that attended the college. I may never know why - but it raises the point again. Unlike our classes in Australia where we as teachers have to know the fire drill, and the exit plan, and emergency procedures, here we are told nothing. I doubt if there is a plan. When I ask students they do not understand how much importance we put on things like workplace health and safety.

Certainly it is not yet on the agenda in China.

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