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Fire safety law on tap

The Ministry of Interior had completed a draft law on fire prevention and the punishment of arsonists in the hope it would improve safety and lead to more investment in the Kingdom, officials said yesterday.

Ouk Kimlek, under-secretary of state at the Ministry and chairman of the committee for the draft law, said it included six chapters and 23 articles and was written over a year.

He said officials needed guidelines for preventing fires and intervening when fires started.

“In the first nine months of this year, there were 300 fires [nationwide] which killed between four and 10 people and seriously damaged property, including [garment] factories,” Ouk Kimlek said, adding that according to his research, 40 per cent of fires were caused by electrical or technical faults.

“Unless we make the draft law, investors will lose confidence in Cambodia,” he said.

Neth Vantha, director of the municipal fire department, said  Article 25 of the draft law stated that a person who intentionally started a fire may be imprisoned from seven to 15 years, while a person who did so accidentally could be jailed from six days to two years.

“It is not too late to make the draft law . . . because it can make people afraid and [encourage them] to carry out the law,” he said, adding that it would put pressure on building owners to instal fire extinguishers and warning systems.

According to figures from the municipal fire department, four people died and four were injured in 65 fires in the capital in the first 10 months of this year. On Friday, municipal governor Kep Chuktema ordered commune councils to discuss fire prevention at their meetings.

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