Mall denies sprinklers, alarm system failed to work

FIRE VICTIM. August watches her aunt Rhenzi Nova Muyco as she sits beside her coffin at Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes along Camus Street in Davao City on Wednesday night. Muyco is among the fatalities during Saturday’s NCCC fire. LEAN DAVAL JR.
FIRE VICTIM. August watches her aunt Rhenzi Nova Muyco as she sits beside her coffin at Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes along Camus Street in Davao City on Wednesday night. Muyco is among the fatalities during Saturday’s NCCC fire. LEAN DAVAL JR.

The management of the NCCC Mall Davao yesterday denied that the water sprinklers and smoke alarm systems of the establishment were not working during the 31-hour fire that occurred last week resulting in the death of 37 persons, 36 of whom were agents of the SSI call center on the fourth floor.

Lawyer Darry Gallego, assistant vice president for corporate services of NCCC, also denied malicious gossips and talks about useless sprinklers and smoke alarm detectors that allegedly failed to function as factors that led to the death of the call center agents are not true.

Some survivors purportedly complained through social media about the inefficient smoke alarm detectors and sprinklers installed inside the mall.

‘We vehemently deny that there were no sprinklers and that the fire alarm system did not work,” Gallego said, “We have working fire alarm systems and fire sprinklers, we have everything.”

The mall officer assured reporters that NCCC mall is fire compliant.

He said however that the management had to wait for the final investigations before making public statements.

Gallego said that the public might say management’s statement is self serving, adding that NCCC realizes that whatever it says at this point in time is not acceptable to the families because it’s coming from us. That is why we keep saying we have to wait for the result of the investigation,” the lawyer said.

“In Davao, the requirements are very stringent in getting a building. Hindi kami makakuha ng permit without those requirements; it’s not a one-time thing,, there’s an annual inspection before we can renew permits for the incoming year,” he said.

Gallego also denied complaints from some of the survivors who tried using the fire exit.

“The fire exit will lead you outside the mall but there is a stair coming from the upper floor. You have to pass through the emergency stairs before you can finally be able to exit the building. There is no truth to that that paglabas mo sa fire exit lalabas ka sa mall there is no establishment doing that making fire exit the exit still inside the building,” he said.

Gallego also said rebuilding of the mall is not the priority concern of the NCCC management.

He said management is focusing its attention on the interest of the relativesd of the victims, displaced tenants and mall workers. He said tenants are already being taken care of by the mall’s leasing team, while the mall’s employees who are being displaced are now also being assisted.

Gallego said that the management will re-assign the displaced employees to other NCCC branches.

“Right now the priority is really taking care of everyone. The management doesn’t think anything else but taking care of everyone. The tenants are being taken care of by our leasing team. I believe they already had initial meeting earlier,” he said.

Gallego also explained why it took long for the NCCC management to meet with the families of the victims. The management of NCCC gathered all the families yesterday at the Orchard Hotel.

He said even before the meeting yesterday there had been efforts to assist the victims and their families through the City Mayor’s Office (CMO). He said from the start and even during the process of identification at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) the management sent their doctors to assist.

“We really apologize even to the relatives of the fire fatalities. We still have to sort things out to make sure that everything is taken care of before we will be able to meet face to face with the families,” he said. (Angie Saveron and Armando Fenequito Jr.)