By VIET NAM NEWS
ASIA NEWS NETWORK
HO CHI MINH CITY
The Quarter Safeguard team for firefighting in Nguyen Thai Binh Ward in Ho ChI MInh City’s District 1 is often called for help by locals.
The team has mini fire vehicles than can enter narrow alleys, and has helped put out dozens of fires since 2009 when it was first set up.
The vehicles are self-modified into mini fire engines, an initiative by Ly Nhon Thanh, the team’s head.
In 2002, Thanh was one of first to rush to the rescue when the blaze broke out at the International Trade Centre in District 1. The fire claimed 60 lives, but he said he saved 97 people.
“How painful and unhappy it was to see the bodies of adults and children being brought out of fires,” he says, explaining that after that disaster he wanted to do something.
He also saw fires in alleys so narrow that fire engines could not enter them. During those times he would think a smaller vehicle could be useful in saving lives and property.
He bought an old motorbike and other equipment such as a small water pumping machine based on the advice of firefighters at the district Fire Prevention and Fighting Police Division.
In October 2009 the first firefighting motorbike was ready for use. It easily entered small alleys and helped put out 14 fires in the next few years.
In 2016 he got a loan to buy a three-wheel vehicle which was later installed with a 1,300-litre water tank, a small water pumping machine, a ladder, a hose, and other equipment.
“The vehicle, only 1.3m wide and 1.8m long, very easily reaches fires in houses inside long, narrow alleys,” Thanh says.
A year after he fabricated the vehicle, he was contacted by overseas Vietnamese from a company supplying technologies to treat environmental disasters and they donated foam extinguishing agent F500, which stamps out fires rapidly.
“The agent especially renders toxic smoke discharged by fires non-toxic. It is very important because many people die due to toxic smoke,” Thanh says.
Last year he borrowed again to buy a motorbike for carrying a 400hp water pumping machine also donated by the same overseas Vietnamese.
He himself fabricated a device to connect the pump with fire hydrants on streets to spray water on fires.
These mini firefighting vehicles were used recently to put out a fire aboard a bus on Ong Lanh Bridge in District 1.
Thanh says he hopes never to use his equipment to extinguish fires because he just does not want a fire to break out.
His team is of great assistance to the fire brigade in reducing the loss of life and property in fires in the district.
Thanh has been honoured for his services.
His mini fire engine won the third prize in a contest last year called Community’s Ideas for innovative technology ideas, products and solutions.
The annual contest is organised by Kham Pha (Discovery) magazine and the city Department of Science and Technology’s grassroots level science management division.
Bui Van Quyen, vice chairman of the Vietnam Invention Association, hailed Thanh’s initiative for its high practicability.
Thanh’s team’s brief is to maintain social order and regulate traffic on the streets. He has personally helped catch thieves.
People in his ward say he is friendly and takes particular care of poor people.
He even helped a poor woman buy a vehicle to hawk coffee to earn money so that her son could go to university.
He says: “I try to do what is good for everyone. That is what Uncle Ho taught. I feel happy when they smile.