Final report on NCCC mall fire probe out by 1st week of February

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 January) — The final report on the investigation of the December 23 fire that killed 38 workers at the NCCC Mall Davao will be out, “hopefully,” by first week of February, the spokesperson of the Interagency Anti-Arson Task Force said.

Fire Supt. Jerry Candido, deputy team leader and spokesperson, told MindaNews in a text message on Monday that “as of now, andyan pa ang ibang tao namin sa (we still have our people there in) Davao City purposely to gather more documents and to authenticate the documents that we have in our possession.”

Candido also said they have no copy of the report of an independent body hired by the NCCC Mall to investigate what caused the fire.

Fire continues to engulf the NCCC Mall Davao along MacArthur Highway corner Ma-a Road in Davao City evening of December 23, 2017. MIndaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Duterte told MindaNews on January 12 that an investigation was conducted by an independent body hired by the owners of the NCCC Mall.

He said the owner, Helen Lim, met with him earlier that afternoon at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan.

MindaNews actually asked about findings of a probe on another issue but Duterte replied: “Findings is that faulty wirings started in the section of furniture quote unquote, pati tsaka yung sa educational materials, school supplies. But there was also another investigation by an independent body hired by the owners of NCCC. They were here. I was talking to them before I entered this room getting the services of I forgot the name. It’s an investigative body connected with insurance in connection with fraud and parang may ano ito, they have the credentials and NCCC hired the company, the agency to do an independent study.”

“But they are still facing charges, right?” MindaNews asked. “I really do not know kasi kung sabihin lang faulty wirings then there has to be something really solid,” Duterte said.

“We don’t have the report of the said independent body,” Candido told MindaNews on January 19. On January 22, Candito said they have not received a copy.

In a teleconference on January 2, Candido said the task force found the NCCC Mall Davao and its tenant Survey Sampling International (SSI) failed to comply with fire safety requirements.

Its finding contradicted the statement of Honey Fritz Alagano, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Davao fire marshal, during the AFP-PNP press conference on December 28 that the mall and SSI passed the annual fire inspection and were issued fire safety inspection certificates in April 2017 and September 2017, respectively.

The task force recommended the relief effective December 31, 2017 of Alagano and four others.

Candido in the January 2 teleconference said NCCC and SSI did not comply with the fire suppression requirement based on lapses that they found in the setup of the mall’s fire alarm, sprinkler system, and fire exits during their investigation last week.

The fire, which was put under control after a day was caused by an electrical short circuit at the ceiling on the third mall, he said.

The SSI, which occupied the entire 4,000-square meter space on the fourth floor of the NCCC Mall, was accredited by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

Candido said the task force found, among others, that the sprinkler systems of the third and fourth floors did not work while the alarm system of the mall was not interconnected with SSI’s; that the sprinkler system’s control valve on the third floor had no sprinkler head while the one on the fourth floor was intact but installed outside the facility of SSI when it should have been installed inside.

He said the floor control valve on the third floor was closed due to the ongoing renovation while the one on the fourth floor had been closed for a long time due to the operation of SSI.

Candido also noted that the sprinklers would not spray water as the floor control valve was closed. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)