Taipei-An amendment to the Fire Service Act that cleared the Legislative Yuan on Tuesday will give firefighters the right to call off dangerous missions for their own safety as they fight fires.
The amendment was passed in response to the death of two young firefighters in Taichung in early October who were killed when trying to put out an early morning blaze in a factory.
It stipulates that firefighters and other rescuers can choose not to carry out a dangerous firefighting mission should they deem that no one is trapped at the scene.
National Fire Agency deputy chief and spokesman Chiang Chi-jen (???) told CNA that the agency already gives firefighters the power to make the final call on whether or not to carry out a mission because they are on the front lines and are most qualified to determine how dangerous a mission is.
What the new amendment does, however, is give firefighters more legal cover should they decide to withdraw from a mission they deem to be too dangerous, he said.
The new legislation does not define what constitutes a "dangerous mission," leaving that task instead to the National Fire Agency, which is the central government authority in charge of firefighting under the Ministry of the Interior (MOI).
Chiang said the agency will come up with clear guidance to firefighters within six months on what constitutes dangerous situations after consulting with experts and local governments.
The same amendment also stipulates that factory owners should provide detailed information, including a list of chemicals stored in their factories and a clear map to firefighters before they carry out their mission.
Violators will face a maximum fine of NT$600,000 (US$19,490).
A factory's management should also send representatives to the scene of the fire to help firefighters deal with a blaze. Failure to do so could result in a NT$1.5 million fine.
The revision also requires the National Fire Agency to form an ad hoc investigative committee consisting of firefighter representatives and scholars to determine the cause of an accident should a rescuer or firefighter die or suffer from severe injuries during a mission.
The MOI said it will work with local government authorities in discussing how to carry out future firefighting missions and come up with follow-up measures based on the new laws, it said in a statement.
The Oct. 3 blaze occurred at a corrugated steel factory in Taichung's Daya District. Hsieh Chih-hsiung (???), 33, and Chang Che-chia (???), 32, were the only two victims of the blaze after the structure collapsed, crushing the two firefighters and trapping them inside the building.
According to agency data, 27 firefighters were killed and 424 were injured during missions from 2014 to 2018.
The amendments will officially take effect after promulgation by President Tsai Ing-wen (???), a step that is considered routine.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel