Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chang Liao Wan-chien (張廖萬堅) yesterday sponsored a bill that seeks to establish a certification system for people who design, manufacture and maintain firefighting equipment, in an attempt to reduce the risk of faulty gear endangering firefighters.
The bill covers two types of personnel: those who design and make equipment, and those who maintain the gear.
The bill stipulates that to qualify as either type, a person must pass a qualification exam administered by the Ministry of the Interior, which oversees the nation’s firefighters, and receive a certificate.
Certified personnel who have worked in the field for two years can apply with local governments to set up offices or consultancies, and can start providing services after obtaining an operating license, it says.
They could also be hired as staff at any venue where the maintenance of firefighting equipment is required, it adds.
The bill stipulates that certificates should be renewed every six years, provided that their holders have completed the required hours of training or classes offered by designated government agencies, schools or groups.
Any graphs or charts created by firefighting equipment personnel while performing their duties should be signed and stamped with their official seal, the bill says.
A record of services provided must be retained in print or electronically for at least five years, and must include the personal information of the project owner, it says.
The ministry and local authorities have the right to request the records and a firefighting equipment professional cannot turn down such requests, it adds.
The ministry and local authorities can solicit the assistance of a professional in matters related to public safety, disaster prevention or rescue, the bill says, adding that the person entrusted must not turn down the request without a valid reason.
Those who refuse to comply with authorities’ requests to access their records or to have them assist in matters related to public safety, disaster prevention or rescue without an acceptable reason would be fined between NT$6,000 and NT$30,000, it says.
Chang Liao, who represents Taichung, said that the bill was inspired by a 1995 fire at Welcome Restaurant in the city that killed 64 people and injured 11.
The fire was caused by a gas leak and was exacerbated by a combination of fire safety problems, including sealed emergency exits and fire lanes obstructed by an illegally built karaoke bar.
The bill was cosponsored by DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) and 17 other DPP members, as well as Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟).
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