The building fire in Taichung on March 6 took 6 lives and injured another 6. One tenant confessed during police investigation that he had set things on fire in the building in revenge over a dispute with the landlady. The fire again highlighted problems dealing with public safety within old buildings. Taichung City Mayor Lu Shiow-yen said she will push for the enactment of a new law as the current Waste Disposal Act does not apply to private properties.
Tenants came back to the fire-damaged building on Xingzhong Street to retrieve left-over personal belongings. Preliminary investigation showed that the fire arose from a rental dispute between one tenant and the landlady. Other tenants who survived the fire felt forced to move out of the building and they worry that they will not be able to get compensated.
Tenant of Taichung building on fire: “(Will you move back here by any chance?) No. (Are you planning on moving to other places?) Yes, I'm looking for a new place.”
Tenant of Taichung building on fire: “It's your conflict and not mine. It has nothing to do with me and now I'm left without a home. Who is going to pay me back for all the losses?”
The big fire that broke out in an apartment building on Xingzhong Street in Taichung during the evening on March 6 caused six deaths and six injuries. The tenant surnamed Cheng confessed to setting items packed into common areas in the building by landlady surnamed Chuang on fire to get back at her. The police have referred both Cheng and Chuang over to the prosecutors on suspicion of committing offenses against public safety. The fire again highlighted the problem of quality management of old buildings in Taiwan.
According to the Urban Development Bureau of Taichung City Government, 43 aged, mixed-used buildings in Taichung have been flagged as they failed to pass public buildings safety inspection checks conducted between October of 2021 to January of 2022. Eight of them have not yet completed their improvements.
Huang Wen-pin, Director, Urban Development Bureau, Taichung: “The five (out of the eight) buildings need more time and money for the repair and remodeling so they have asked for a time extension. The owners of the other three buildings have refused to make any changes and we have given them penalties.”
The Taichung Urban Development Bureau stated that 35 buildings have made improvements in building management, five were permitted an extension to their improvements, and three were given a penalty for not making an improvement. As for fire management, 35 buildings have made improvements while 8 others were permitted an extension in making the improvements.
Fires in old buildings also have a lot to do with the hoarding and cluttering of items in hallways and common areas since those have helped to intensify the fire in Taichung and other places. Currently, Taichung's Environmental Protection Bureau could only regulate under violations of endangering public safety. Taichung City Mayor Lu Shiow-yen said she will push for the enactment of a new law.
Lu Shiow-yen, Taichung City Mayor: “We will perhaps inquire the Legislative Yuan on whether Taichung should enact our own local ordinances or request the central government to enact a national law.”
Lu said that the current Waste Disposal Act does not apply to private properties so hoarding in one cannot be intervened or punished. Lu plans to enact either local ordinances or ask the central government to enact national law in dealing with this specific issue.