A leading fire prevention official has called on Cambodians to report corrupt firefighters and those who cause damage to property in the course of carrying out their duties.
Neth Vantha, head of the fire prevention department at the interior ministry, said the government had created new draft regulations that would help prevent and reduce fires at a meeting last week.
The rules will place new conditions on the maintenance of fire-unsafe areas, such as gas stations, as well as homes and small businesses.
Firefighters will be dispatched to inspect properties to ensure they meet the new requirements, with property owners given warnings followed by court proceedings for non-compliance.
Vantha added that the service also wanted to clean up its image and called on the public to report incidents of bribe solicitation.
“Firefighters are public officials, not private. So people do not need to pay them money for the service. If it happens, the people should file a complaint to the department immediately,” he said.
Firefighters who are found to have damaged people’s property under the draft could face up to a year in jail.
San Chey, a fellow with the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, welcomed the draft decree, adding that more resources would need to be put into the sector and better monitoring should be implemented.
“The people still complain about irregularities, even when there is no extortion, there are still issues with vehicles, such as the vehicles cannot reach the site, they are delayed and lack firefighting tools,” he said.