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Author Topic: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...  (Read 6335 times)

cruisemonkey

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Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« on: June 03, 2013, 08:24:46 AM »
... seems to be virtually nonexistent.

On each floor of my uni's faculty apartment building there are standpipes and fire hoses (I assume) in metal cabinets on the walls of the hallways... all locked.

The first floor entrance/exit doors at the back of the building... chained shut and locked.

The landing in the basement at the bottom of the back stairwell (the only way out at the back) completely crammed full of flattened cardboard boxes waiting to be recycled and cigarette butts... and is always blocked by a scooter.

The hallways/stairwells are pitch black at night because the lights are always burnt out. They use 'cheap-shit' Chinese bulbs that last approximately a week (but are only replaced once a year).

The emergency lights don't work because the batteries are 'dead'.

 After spending six years in Korea (where things are much the same) none of this surprises me.

What's your place like... and why are Asians such idiots when it comes to fire safety?
The Koreans once gave me five minutes notice - I didn't know what to do with the extra time.

Guangzhou Writer

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2013, 11:10:23 AM »
Fire safety is a bit like traffic and bodies in motion. You have to be able to allow information access to your brain pan that is beyond the next 0.1 seconds in order to understand these things.

My apartment is a relatively new building. I wouldn't say the fire safety is good, but the stairs are never blocked or locked and there's roof access to two or three adjacent buildings, so I could go up or down. I have seriously considered buying some rope that could be used to descend from my balcony, but there are two vertically open spaces about 2 meters square on either side of the elevator that I could go down in a free climb if I first busted into that vertical space, which I think I could do bare-handed, so I don't think the rope is necessary. I'm on the 9th floor.
Formerly gzwriter

dragonsaver

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2013, 12:02:14 PM »
Today's news.  aoaoaoaoao

Quote
A blaze at a locked poultry slaughterhouse in northeast China killed at least 119 people on Monday with several still unaccounted for
Be kind to dragons for thou are crunchy when roasted and taste good with brie.

MK

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2013, 12:53:14 PM »
Oh man...the fire alarm went off in the middle of the night at the place where I used to live...there was smoke in the hallways.  I was the ONLY person who used the stairs, most people ignored it, others used the elevators (turned out to be nothing serious but hey...).  I've heard from someone who worked as residence hall staff at a uni in the UK that Chinese students are a nightmare when it comes to the surprise annual fire drill  (they refuse to be outside unless fully dressed with a jacket, they stop to gather all their stuff, are usually last out  etc).

cruisemonkey

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2013, 08:16:27 PM »
I'm on the third floor in the middle of the building. There are two stairwells - no elevators. I've memorised the number of doors to each stairwell from my apartment, the number of stairs and landings in the stairwells at the back & front (they're different) and practiced getting out 'by feel' while holding my breath. While walking upright, it can't be done (without breathing), nevermind if one had to crawl to stay below the smoke. If one doesn't know where the fire is, it's pitch black, and the hallways/stairwells are  full of smoke, one will have a 50/50 chance of picking the correct direction to go - further reduced by the chance of being overcome by smoke even if one picked/guessed the correct direction.

I always have my Mini Maglite on my bedside table. However, like gzwriter, I've been thinking of getting a rope I could use to decend from my balcony, but have so far put it off... it's time to 'get off my ass' and do it!

The Koreans once gave me five minutes notice - I didn't know what to do with the extra time.

Escaped Lunatic

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2013, 12:55:21 AM »
My old apartment and my house both are of the brick and concrete variety (you should have seen me trying to jam a push-pin into what I foolishly assumed was drywall shortly after arriving in China the first time ahahahahah).  In either, I could pile my stuff in the living room, set it on fire, and then sit safely in the bedroom until the smoke clears.

Evidently, newer construction is of a more flammable variety.

During one of the less harmonious days of expressing anger against Japan over some islands, I was at Computer City in DG.  They had most of the entrances and exits (including all the emergency exits I saw) chained and locked shut.  I decided I didn't really feel like shopping that day once I noticed that there was no quick way out.
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Guangzhou Writer

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2013, 01:07:46 AM »
Twice I've been in apartment buildings where small kitchen fires filled the landing with smoke and set off the alarms and nobody else seemed to even notice. The people in the apartment put out the fires, but they didn't call anyone, not even their neighbors.

If I lived between the second and fifth floor, I would have already bought the rope, it's just above that it's kind of a pain to keep that much lying around. I also have a flashlight next to my bed. I've been meaning to put together a mini go bag in case of having to get out in the middle of the night, especially a couple of months ago when there was a small earthquake and I felt the building sway.

At one job I had in the USA, we were in a 5 story building that was quite wide and had begun packing two people into every cubicle because of increased tech support demands. The fire drill took a looooong time. I was surprised to see that with so many people, it can easily take 20 minutes to file out from the top floor.

Although I'm sure that during a fire people would want to move faster, I think the frenzy would probably slow things down.
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Granny Mae

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2013, 09:40:39 PM »
I've been meaning to put together a mini go bag in case of having to get out in the middle of the night,

 Don't just think about it gzwriter, do it! bfbfbfbfbf I advise everyone who is reading this topic, to stop NOW and think about the consequences of NOT being fully prepared to evacuate your building. What about your personal papers and documents? How hard will they be to replace? Cruisemonkey has also put in some effort which is good to see. I was the volunteer fire and bomb warden in my large workplace and believe me, humans can be very stupid and unpredictable in an emergency. May I also suggest that you take a few minutes to see if there is a plan of escape routes in any places that you frequent. bfbfbfbfbf

roadwalker

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2013, 03:04:23 AM »
I didn't want to read this topic because it is one of the worst aspects of living in China for me:  the Chinese love to chain shut any safety doors, options and really can't be bothered when a few hundred perish in a fire.  I was in Liaoning, but not in Shenyang when they had a fire in a department store about 10 years ago and hundreds died from being trampled or from the smoke.  They had chained the majority of the exits (why build doors you'll never use?) and panic ensued.  At my school of that time, I had to go into the library once during a rain.  They had about 20 doors and 19 chained.  And everyone was moving in and out slowly to accommodate umbrellas. Once inside, I kept noticing the locked doors and trying to decide which window I might need to smash with which chair or table.  I'm a bit claustrophobic as it is, and it doesn't help to know there are no exits.

Where I live now, like EL, the neighbor's fire likely won't last and won't reach my apartment, but...there is only one stairwell (not enclosed) and all of the windows are barred.  I haven't tested the strength of the iron or the fasteners (possibly a good kick will send the bars down to impale a poor onlooker) but it also bothers me.

Guangzhou Writer

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2013, 09:30:56 AM »
There are these underground shopping malls in Guangzhou that literally have exit signs everywhere, so you have no clue how to get out. Cut the lights and blow some smoke and it's a perfect death trap.

@ Granny Mae: thanks for the suggestion. I do have all my important papers and computer data in one place that I could gather up in less than a minute, but without a mini go-bag, I'd be standing outside in my undies with a small duffle over my shoulder, cash, passport, and a few portable hard drives.
Formerly gzwriter

Fozzwaldus

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2013, 11:57:36 AM »
I was going to buy a smoke alarm here in Ireland to bring back for our new apartment - has anybody else done this? Will it drive us mad going off everytime we cook?
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Guangzhou Writer

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2013, 12:53:14 PM »
Do you cook at super high temperatures using horrid vegetable oils that become even worse when super heated and atomized, covering your entire apartment in a thin film of nastiness?

If no, then a smoke alarm sounds like a good idea.
Formerly gzwriter

Granny Mae

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2013, 09:57:52 PM »
Fozzwaldus, my brother is a retired Fireman and he told me to buy the photo electric smoke alarms as they are far more effective. If the alarms were accidentally set off during the day because of human activity, I'd take the batteries out during the day and put them in at night. My alarm used to go off if the lawn mower went past my back door. Hope I didn't come off as a nag gzwriter, but my experience and observations give me cause for great concern in respect of this topic. What you folks are telling me about lack of escape routes, is really frightening. May I suggest again, that everyone take a REALISTIC look at what could or probably would happen if there was a fire in their apartment. It will be TOO LATE once it has happened.

cruisemonkey

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2013, 02:52:25 AM »
The 'go bag' is a great idea. I'm putting (and keeping) a change of clothes along with all my important documents and bank info./cards in my luggage 'carry-on' - all ready to 'grab & go' without thinking or looking.

Yesterday, I bought 20 meters of rope and knotted it about every meter for better 'grip'. It's now secured to the living room radiator (the only anchor point strong enough) and coiled unobtrusively, in the corner, behind a chair, on the floor just inside the sliding glass door to my balcony. All I'll have to do is open the sliding door, open the balcony window and throw the coil out...

P.S. It's not the just the apartments -
At each entrance/exit of all the teaching buildings on campus there are either: three or four sets of doors. However, in all cases, all sets except one are chained & locked. During class changes, this creates a 'bottle neck' it can take minutes to get through. During a fire, with people panicking, the entrances/exits are 'death traps'.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 02:59:13 AM by cruisemonkey »
The Koreans once gave me five minutes notice - I didn't know what to do with the extra time.

Granny Mae

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Re: Chinese Apartment Fire Safety...
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2013, 10:40:29 PM »
Good one cruisemonkey! bfbfbfbfbf Any chance that you could get duplicate keys cut for a couple of sets of the school fire escape doors?