A policeman inspects fire safety equipment in a karaoke bar in Cần Thơ City. Many businesses said current regulations on fire safety were too much for them. — VNA/VNS Photo

Many businesses have had enough of overly restrictive regulations on fire safety, and the clamour for a relaxation of the regulations is growing louder.

Nguyễn Đỗ Tùng Cương, chairman of the Vietnam Fire & Rescue Association, said over 230 businesses aired grievances to his association in March against fire safety regulations.

The situation was also well depicted in the Provincial Competitiveness Index Survey, in which requirements related to fire prevention and fighting were among the four most-troublesome obstacles to businesses.

Nguyễn Hữu Thập, chairman of the Business Association of Tuyên Quang Province, said the current regulations on fire safety entail high compliance costs for businesses.

He took Decree No.136 as an example, which requires businesses to have certain fireproof facilities to be certified as compliant. Some facilities are costly, making it impossible to follow the rules for those in weak financial positions.

"Fireproof elevator shaft gates can cost businesses up to VNĐ1 billion, an unnecessary cost created by unnecessarily restrictive regulations," said Thập.

He said many entrepreneurs had to cease operations owing to the unforeseen costs incurred by fire safety regulations. He called for the abolition of such "costly" regulations to bring them back to life.

Nguyễn Thị Thu Liên, a representative of the Association of Food Transparency, believed that it is unnecessary, under current fire safety regulations, to require shelves of 5.5m and above to follow a specific set of technical requirements.

She also said it is duplicative to require businesses that have moved from one sector to another to re-apply for fire safety certification once they were certified for the first sector.

"A certified textile company that has transformed into a fruit exporter should be spared the ordeal of re-applying for fire safety certification," said Liên.

Nguyễn Hồng Hải, a presentative of the Vietnam Ship Agents, Brokers, and Maritime Services Providers Association, said firefighting vessels and vehicles had become mandatory for port-management companies under current fire safety regulations.

The requirement for the facilities, which normally need hundreds of billions of đồng to build, would add to their costs and put the logistics sector at a cost disadvantage. Hải called for the abolition of that specific requirement to improve the competitive position of port-management companies.

Voices of the business sector have been heard by the Government, which has requested Vietnam Fire Koand Rescue Police Department take measures to untangle the issue. Around 10,000 businesses have been helped so far in this regard.

And the good news doesn't stop there. The Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice are drafting revisions to Decree No.136 to lessen its compliance burden on businesses. The revised version is expected to be made public in August.

The Ministry of Public Security is also urging the Government to revise the Law on Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting to make fire safety regulations more tolerable and less costly for the business sector. — VNS