On the night of October 11 a fire engulfed the CT4 Building in Xa La, Ha Dong district in Hanoi, setting 300 motorbikes and one car on fire. Fortunately only one policeman was injured. The fire was remarkable for what is says about the state of fire safety in perhaps many buildings.

“Though the apartment block has been there for years it had never undergone fire safety tests,” Mr. Nguyen Van Son, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Police Firefighting and Prevention told local media.

In July the department decided to fine the building’s investor, Private Construction Number 1 Dien Bien, VND133 million ($5,938) for violating four regulations: opening a building before its passed fire safety tests, failing to implement the recommendations of Hanoi firefighting authorities regarding fire safety, improper construction compared to the approved fire-safe design, and not submitting documents on fire safety after the construction permit was changed (the site was originally to be a shopping center).

A representative of the investor told local media it was waiting for the outcome of the investigation into the fire before commenting further. Whether the investigation shows it was the investor’s fault or a fault in the electricity supply, he said, it will support the building’s residents as much as possible.

The fire also revealed issues relating to firefighting equipment. The fire brigade brought ladder trucks to the scene, but Hanoi’s two tallest ladders are 56 meters in height, which can only reach the 18th floor at most. The CT4 Building is 34 floors high, meaning that many people on the upper floors had to come down to the 18th floor before being evacuated. This has raised concern among fire brigades and building residents about the city’s ability to cope with fires in tall buildings.