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Notre Dame fire reignites concerns over China’s fire prevention on ancient wooden architectures

(People's Daily Overseas New Media)    15:50, April 17, 2019



After a blaze erupted at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday afternoon, destroying the spire of the building, concerns were reignited across China on the fire prevention measures of the nation’s countless ancient architectures – many of which are built from wood.

Specifically, the iconic Palace Museum, the world’s largest existing wooden palace complex, once again drew attention for standing centuries without major destruction caused by fire.

Apart from the ancient method of laying gigantic jars filled with water in front of each palace in case of fire, the 49 years of fire-free security naturally benefits from restless endeavor from the fire brigade.

The grand architecture of the complex has been divided into 10 protected areas, and customized firefighting plans are in place for each part. Newcomers are required to run alongside the walls every day to remember the exact location of each palace, and arrive at the site within 3 minutes when a blaze occurs.

The firefighters have water hoses, mobile water tanks, and other means to fully protect the Hall of Supreme Harmony, also called Tianhe Dian, within 10 minutes.

A powerful modern fire prevention system has also been set up. Some 5,674 intelligent smoke detectors and 113 aspirating fire detectors have been installed at booths and security gates, which can receive early warning and reduce the rate of false alarms.

In addition, there are 94 underground fire hydrants and 4,866 fire extinguishers are scattered across the complex. A total of 308 large and small water tanks can also contribute nearly 3,000 liters of water for firefighting.

During daily inspections, weeds and fallen leaves on the roof are brushed off. As much of 100 tons of combustibles are removed annually and over 900,000 square meters of area are humidified each year.

Since 2013, the museum has banned any kind of open fires in its compound, including smoking and even cafeterias and vehicles, which are prone to fire accidents. Even its own employees are required to ride a bike to their office, according to news portal

The cautiousness taken at the Palace Museum is essential as the country has suffered great losses in catastrophic fires in past years, as most of the nation’s ancient buildings were made of wood. For example, a fire in the town of Dukezong in southwest China’s Yunnan province lasted 10 hours, and burned down a heritage-listed Tibetan shop along with 242 houses.

“The blaze of Notre Dame Cathedral sounded an alarm for us. Targeted firefighting exercises and raising public awareness are needed to prevent a similar tragedy,” a neitizen commented on his Weibo account.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhang Luewen, Bianji)

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