The Council of Ministers on Friday approved the nation’s first comprehensive fire safety law, which, among other measures, would mandate penalties against firefighters who demand bribes, allow steeper sentences for arsonists and require that all buildings contain fire extinguishers.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, who presided over the meeting that approved the draft law by the Ministry of Interior, said the law would improve security, reduce poverty and save lives.
“The spread of higher buildings and other new structures increases the chances of fire,” the prime minister said in a statement after the meeting, noting the fire at the Siem Reap town night market last Saturday, which left eight dead and hundreds of shops destroyed.
He encouraged building owners, including private businesses, factories and large hotels, to cooperate with the government to reduce fires by installing fire extinguishers and providing their own fire trucks if they had the resources to do so.
The fire law will now be sent to the National Assembly, the senate, the Constitutional Council and lastly, the King.
Neth Vantha, director of the Phnom Penh Fire Department, supported passage of the law, noting that most fires occur in Phnom Penh. From January to December this year, 71 separate fires were reported in the capital, he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STEPHANIE IP