In the early morning of Saturday, 3 July, authorities had installed barbed wires on the staircase of a People's Housing Project (PPR) flat in Kuala Lumpur
However, the decision quickly drew widespread criticism as it was deemed to be a fire hazard
"My apologies but staircases should not be obstructed. Staircases are designed in line with building by-laws," said one commenter, adding, "If there is a fire there must be an alternative escape route. One staircase is not enough."
"Who's instruction was it to install (barbed) wires at the staircase," questioned another, adding, "Surely stationing officers at a command post is enough to make the residents fall in line. No need to waste money on this. Fencing can be installed where it is needed more."
Following which, Federal Territories (FT) Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa ordered the immediate removal of the barbed wires
In a tweet last night, the FT Minister wrote, "Installing barbed wires at the staircases of flats in EMCO areas is not allowed. The order to remove them has been issued. Take note."
In response to his order, the barbed wires were quickly removed from the affected areas, according to a report by Malaysiakini.
Speaking on the matter, Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Hamdan Wahid said that corrective measures have been taken to ensure public safety in the event of an emergency.
"The barbed wires are now only installed at the ground floor, and at the final exit," he said, adding, "There are no longer any obstructions to the fire escape route."
According to the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), the approval for installing the barbed wires was given by the Fire and Rescue Department during a coordination meeting regarding the EMCO guidelines
Bernama quoted Wangsa Maju district police chief SP Ashari Abu Samah as saying that the decision was made with the Fire and Rescue department being present.
He also added that should a fire break out, or in the case of an emergency, residents could use other routes to get to safety.
"For your information, the armed forces can remove the barbed wires in a short period of time and we are always monitoring the staircase," before adding that the police always prioritises the safety and well-being of the community.
The Fire and Rescue Department director-general, however, denied that this was the case.
When asked to comment on the contradictory statements, Mohammad Hamdan said his department had not given their permission.
"Who gave the permission? The Fire Department never did. Obstructing emergency escape routes on any premise is in contravention of the Fire Safety Code and Uniform Building By-Laws," he was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini.
"We have never been consulted about the installation of barbed wires at the exits in the manner which it has been done. It is unsafe for the residents in the case of a fire."
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