EPF building blaze 'due to illegal cladding'

Firefighters dousing the blaze at the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) building in Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya, yesterday. Deputy director-general Soiman Jahid of the Fire and Rescue Services Department confirmed that it was the first fire involving fl
Firefighters dousing the blaze at the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) building in Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya, yesterday. Deputy director-general Soiman Jahid of the Fire and Rescue Services Department confirmed that it was the first fire involving flammable cladding panels in Malaysia.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA • A blaze at Malaysia's pension fund building in Selangor yesterday was caused by a spark that set alight what an official described as illegal flammable cladding on the building's exterior.

Deputy director-general Soiman Jahid of the Fire and Rescue Services Department said the fire started on the first floor of the six-floor Employees Provident Fund (EPF) building in Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya, as maintenance work was being carried out on the building's exterior.

He confirmed that it was the first fire involving flammable cladding panels in Malaysia, and that the incident was similar to the Grenfell Tower fire in London last year, also blamed on flammable cladding.

"Initial investigations revealed that due to the spark and the cladding used, as well as the hot weather and strong wind, the fire spread to other parts of the building's exterior," Datuk Soiman said.

Buildings in Malaysia are required to be fitted with non-flammable cladding panels, he said, hence using highly flammable ones is a clear infringement of the law. "A total of 70 firemen were deployed to the scene and we managed to put out the fire completely within 30 minutes," he said, adding that the department received the call on the fire at 11.52am and arrived at the scene six minutes later.

Almost 40 per cent of the building was reportedly destroyed, but there were no casualties. The EPF said in a statement that the building was totally evacuated in response to the fire.

The razed building is located beside the Federal Highway that links capital Kuala Lumpur to the Petaling Jaya suburbs and the Selangor capital of Shah Alam.

Said EPF: "We would like to assure members that there has been no compromise to the data integrity or members' savings in any manner."

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2018, with the headline 'EPF building blaze 'due to illegal cladding''. Print Edition | Subscribe