Cinema owner 'neglected fire safety rules'
Inspection reports 'not filed' for 3 years
The owner of the fire-ravaged Major Cineplex Pinklao failed to comply with several public building safety regulations, according to the Building Safety Inspectors and Officers Association (BSA).
The operator of the cinema in Bang Phlat district of Bangkok had not submitted a report showing the results of mandatory safety inspections for about three years, said Wasawat Kitsiriteeaphak, president of the BSA.
He was speaking at a press briefing held Wednesday after an initial inspection of the cinema that was damaged by a fire last Thursday. Two people suffered minor cuts from broken glass during the fire.
The fire started in a cinema on the fourth floor of the building situated on Boromratchonnanee Road. Up to 40 fire engines and more than 100 firefighters attended the blaze.
The BSA, along with the Council of Engineers and the Architect Council of Thailand (Act), conducted a joint inspection of the building on Saturday.
Citing findings from the inspection, Mr Wasawat said due to negligence, the cinema operator would be required to pay an initial fine of 60,000 baht, plus additional fines of 10,000 baht per day, counting from the day it first failed to submit safety inspection reports.
"If a formal inspection by local authorities shows the cinema still doesn't have sufficient safety measures, they may issue an order to suspend the use of the entire building or certain parts of it," he said.
Aside from this mistake, the owner of the cinema was also found to have broken other safety regulations, said the BSA president.
The cinema owner failed to install an automatic fire alarm device in all necessary parts of the building, an automatic fire sprinkler system in all parts of the building, an automatic emergency lighting system, and fire exit signs and plans as required by the Engineering Institute of Thailand, he said. The cinema operator also did not use fireproof walls along fire exit paths and failed to ensure that smoke could not escape into fire exits in the event of a fire, he said.
The operator also failed to regularly inspect the fire pumps and hoses and did not comply with building control laws that require an annual inspection of the building, he said.
Jedkamchorn Phromyothi, president of Act, said the cinema was badly damaged because the interior decoration materials such as the carpets, curtains and soundproof pads were flammable.
Learning from this case, Act recommends state agencies responsible for inspecting buildings pay more attention to such materials in the facilities they are inspecting, said Mr Jedkamchorn.
Act will petition the Department of Public Works and Town and Country Planning of the Interior Ministry to inspect the interior decoration materials used in public buildings such as cinemas, hotels and other entertainment venues, he said.
Fireproof materials should be used in such buildings to mitigate the damage that may be caused by a fire. Owners should test the materials claimed to be fireproof before investing in them, he said.