Expert Calls for Law over Emergency Staircase after Osaka Arson

Society Politics Lifestyle

Tokyo, Dec. 25 (Jiji Press)--An expert called for legislation to tackle the issue of commercial buildings having only one emergency staircase, after a recent arson attack at a building in the western Japan city of Osaka that left 25 people dead.

The Dec. 17 arson at a mental health clinic on the fourth floor of the eight-story multitenant building in the city's Kita Ward engulfed its only emergency staircase, leaving no way to escape for the victims.

The first to sixth floors of the building completed in 1970 have a floor space of about 93 square meters each. The only exits from the higher floors are the one elevator on the front side of the building and the emergency staircase.

According to the government's Fire and Disaster Management Agency, there are believed to be some 30,000 three-story or higher commercial buildings with only one emergency staircase in Japan, meaning that it would be difficult for those on the higher floors to directly escape outside.

Through the 1974 revision of the order to implement the building standards law, the installation of two or more emergency staircases became mandatory for buildings with six or more stories. But the Osaka building is exempted from the requirement as it was built before the rule change.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press