Official denies system failure exacerbated fire
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Fire probe: A Jakarta Police forensic investigator uses a gadget to investigate Thursday’s fire at the State Secretariat. The secretariat is off-limits for police to continue to probe the reason behind the fire. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)
A high-ranking official on Friday dismissed the allegation that the malfunctioning fire detection and sprinkler system played a role in the severity of the fire at the State Secretariat’s main building, located only 25 meters from the State Palace.
“The system worked properly but the fire was too big and overwhelmed the system,” State Secretariat secretary Lambock V Nahattands told a press conference.
The building, the location of the offices of State Secretary Sudi Silalahi and Lambock, was engulfed by flames on Thursday afternoon. Almost the whole third floor of the three-story building was destroyed, with no casualties reported.
According to Lambock, his office and Sudi’s, on the second floor, were not affected by the fire.
The fire alarm was not working prior to or during the incident and several compound hydrants had to be loosened before they could eventually be used by fire fighters who arrived at the scene about 30 minutes after the fire was first detected at 4:30 p.m.
An official told The Jakarta Post that not all areas in the building were equipped with sprinkler systems.
Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha ensured that no crucial documents or data had been lost in the fire but he acknowledged some parts of the building were used to file important archives.
Many employees returned to the building on Friday despite the incident.
“We will work today as usual. Our activities are now temporarily centered on the second floor. Much of the third floor was occupied by meeting rooms, anyway,” he said.
Members of the National Police’s forensic division were still seen on the site on Friday suspecting faulty wiring as the cause.
“Our team is still working on the investigation. We will disclose the final report to the public,” National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Suhardi Alius explained.
The incident occurred while President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and some of his ministers were having a Cabinet meeting at the Presidential office nearby.
Shortly after the meeting, Yudhoyono along with some ministers inspected the scene. The President told the working fire crews to prioritize saving human lives.
First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and her youngest son Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono also left the Palace to check out the situation. Ani, who is known to love photography, was seen carrying a camera.
Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said the administration would start auditing buildings.
“Starting in April [there will be a team] to audit fire and flood facilities,” he said at City Hall on Friday.
In 2012, there were 1,008 fires in the city according to data from the fire department.
“This means there was an average of three incidents everyday. This year alone, there have been more than 190 cases in less than three months.”
The fire department recorded 191 fire cases this year, with 54 in East Jakarta, West Jakarta followed with 44 cases, 37 cases were recorded in South Jakarta, 32 in Central Jakarta and 24 in North Jakarta.
Of these 141 cases were caused by faulty wiring, while 11 cases were triggered by stove explosion. Material losses were estimated at Rp 65 billion (US$6.67 million). It was recorded that four died and 15 sustained injuries from those incidents.
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