Spread of fire at EPF building was “similar” to Grenfell Tower tragedy: Fire dept chief

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The fire which brought traffic on the Federal Highway to a standstill on Tuesday (Feb 14) was caused by unsafe cladding panels used on a building’s exterior, the Fire and Rescue Services Department has confirmed.

Comparing the incident to a tragic fire in London last year, the fire department’s deputy director-general Datuk Soiman Jahid said: “This incident is similar to the fire at Grenfell Tower in London last year where the use of flammable cladding panels was a key factor.

According to him, a spark had ignited the flammable cladding used for maintenance work on the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) building at Jalan Gasing.

London’s Grenfell fire killed a total of 71 people in June last year.

The Star quoted Soiman as saying that hot weather and strong wind aided the spread of the fire.

“The Uniform Building Bylaws require buildings to be fitted with less flammable cladding panels. Using more flammable ones is a clear infringement,” he reportedly told journalists.

All employees working in the six-storey building were evacuated safely and the fire was eventually put out within 30 minutes.

After the incident, Soiman said that his department would be conducting inspections on buildings across Malaysia.

“I urge building owners who have used the more flammable cladding panels to change them immediately. If you are unsure, contact us so we can assess whether the right cladding has been used,” he reportedly said.

On Tuesday, an EPF spokesperson said that the fire did not cause any loss to “data integrity or members’ savings in any manner”.