CLIENTS AND contractors in Paraguay fail to take fire safety engineering seriously, a local fire engineer has warned.
'In South America we are copying the architects of the first world without complying with the same safety standards, ' said International Fire Safety Consulting director Eduardo Alvarez.
Alvarez was speaking at a fire engineering conference in Madrid, organised by the Association of Professional Fire Engineers (APICI).
Alvarez said National Fire Protection Association codes were ignored at the Ycuß Bola±os supermarket in Paraguay, where on 1 August 2004 a fire broke out, killing 426 people and injuring 477.
The supermarket was built in 2001 and appeared very modern.
But in terms office safety it performed very badly, Alvarez told delegates.
'Construction is done for the aesthetic, and anything that cannot be seen does not matter, ' he said.
The fire started on a grill in the supermarket kitchen.
Three blocked fire exits hampered evacuation efforts.
The polyurethane secondary ceiling completely burned away.
There were no sprinklers and annual fire service inspections, called for in NFPA codes, were not carried out.
Alvarez also criticised clients for failing to seeking specialist advice .
'People have got to comply with codes voluntarily. A culture change is needed, ' he said.