Action has been taken to remove barbed and razor wires placed along a staircase at Block C PPR Kampung Baru Air Panas, Kuala Lumpur, that were identified as a fire hazard, according to Fire and Rescue Department director-general Hamdan Wahid.
When contacted, Hamdan said he had verified the situation and instructed for corrective measures.
“The barbed wire is now only set up at the ground floor after the final exit.
“There are no longer any obstructions to the fire escape route,” Hamdan told Malaysiakini.
Earlier, several photographs of armed forces personnel setting up the barbed wires indoors along a staircase at a low-cost public housing project raised alarms over a potential safety and fire hazard.
The area had been placed under an enhanced MCO to control the number of Covid-19 cases there.
Wangsa Maju police chief Ashari Abu Samah defended the move, saying that the barbed wire had been installed by police and armed forces personnel after it was agreed to in a coordinating meeting where Fire Department representatives were also present.
He said if there was an emergency, the barbed wires could be removed quickly.
Ashari also said there was a different exit that residents from Block C could use in case of an emergency.
Taking to Facebook, architect Azizul Azwar Abdul Aziz said any obstruction along a staircase would pose a hazard to residents in the event of a fire.
“The number of staircases and their position in a building has been planned to ensure all residents would be able to escape in the event of a fire,” said Azizul, who shared three photographs by national news agency Bernama taken at Block C PPR Kampung Baru Air Panas, Kuala Lumpur, yesterday.
The photographs showed army personnel setting up barbed wire at the bottom of the staircase, which also blocked access to a fire extinguisher mounted on a wall.
Azizul said restricted access to any staircases in a building could lead to a bottleneck at the other available staircases, particularly in a fire situation.
“If there are stairs being blocked, it would add extra burden on the other stairs in the building and this could lead to a disrupted escape ‘flow’ and bottleneck.
“And in a fire, people can’t use the lifts so what other way can they use to escape?” he said.
When contacted, Azizul explained that obstructing any staircase was also a violation of the Uniform Building By-Laws 1984.
Others including infectious disease expert Dr Christopher Lee and DAP’s Liew Chin Tong had also taken to Twitter with similar concerns.
According to Bernama, the barbed wire was set up ahead of the enhanced movement control order in most parts of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur beginning today until July 16.
In Selangor, state police chief Arjunaidi Mohamed yesterday said barbed wires would not be erected at 34 sub-districts under an enhanced MCO.