In heartland neighbourhood centres, shopkeepers are allowed to display their goods along the five-foot ways in demarcated areas.
It is common to see overhead hanging structures, hooks and hangers on the side and soffit of beams, haphazardly run extension cords, even merchandise placed directly under fire shutters.
A case in point is Teck Whye Shopping Centre.
Clear markings of important fire safety equipment can prevent injuries and save structures as long as people are aware of what to do.
It is a good practice to provide "keep clear" signs on the floor for fire shutters and fire hose reel compartments in shopping malls and transport nodes.
But there is no government agency regulating such good practices.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has said that one of the top causes of fires in Singapore is of electrical origin. Haphazard placement of extension cords is a potential danger.
There is only so much the merchant associations or grassroots organisations can do on fire and electrical safety issues in heartland shopping areas.
Everyone must take fire safety seriously. The Energy Market Authority, SCDF and town councils need to step up their enforcement to deal firmly with the recalcitrants.
Loong Chik Tong