Another eatery in breach of fire safety rules

Second Beach Road place found with more than 200kg of petroleum on site

ANOTHER steamboat restaurant in Beach Road has been caught for illegally storing more than 200kg of petroleum and flammable materials on its premises.

During a safety enforcement check conducted on Tuesday in Beach Road, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers found that Zhong Hua Steamboat had exceeded the allowed limit of 200kg for those without a valid storage licence.

The other Beach Road restaurant inspected on Tuesday and found to be in breach of the rules was Chong Qing (Original) Steamboat.

On Saturday, a fire suddenly broke out at Chong Qing (Original) Steamboat and landed five women in hospital with scalds and burns.

The cause of that fire is still under investigation, but an exploding gas canister has been suggested as a possible cause.

A third restaurant in Beach Road that the SCDF inspected on Tuesday was found to have complied with the fire safety rule.

A spokesman told The Straits Times that SCDF will be taking enforcement action against the restaurants which kept more than 200kg of petroleum and flammable materials on site but did not have a valid storage licence.

According to SCDF's fire safety rules, eating establishments need approval and a licence before they can store petroleum and flammable materials above 200kg. Below that, a licence is not required.

First-time offenders may be fined up to $5,000, while repeat offenders will be prosecuted in court. If convicted, offenders can be fined up to $10,000, jailed for up to six months, or both.

When contacted, the manager of Zhong Hua Steamboat who wanted to be known only as Mr Wu admitted that his restaurant had exceeded the 200kg storage limit for liquefied petroleum gas but he said the restaurant has since disposed of the excess amount.

He said his restaurant takes precautions to ensure that the gas is handled safely.

"We make sure that the gas cylinders which we use are licensed and certified," he added.

Last year, the SCDF conducted 13,903 enforcement checks, of which 30 per cent was based on public feedback, according to its website.

As a result of the checks, the SCDF issued 3,069 notices of fire safety offence last year, an increase of 27.7 per cent from the previous year.

Of those notices, 8 per cent were for storage and transportation of petroleum or flammable materials without a valid licence, making the offence the third most common one for which fire safety offence notices were issued.

Unauthorised change of use of premises accounted for 1,448 notices, or about 47 per cent of such notices issued, while the number of notices given for carrying out unauthorised fire safety works made up about 25 per cent of the total.

The SCDF said that anyone who spots a fire hazard can call the fire-hazard reporting line on 1800-280-0000 or e-mail the SCDF at SCDF_Fire_Safety_Feedback@scdf.gov.sg.

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg