CHINA / SOCIETY
SW China’s Sichuan announces ‘strictest fire prevention order’, sparking controversy
Published: Mar 30, 2021 12:37 AM
Firefighters of a local firefighting squad are back at their headquarters located in Xichang of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China's Sichuan Province, April 3, 2019. (Photo:Xinhua)

Firefighters of a local firefighting squad are back at their headquarters located in Xichang of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China's Sichuan Province, April 3, 2019. (Photo:Xinhua)


Dubbed as “the strictest fire prevention order ever issued,” a rule that requires registration to purchase lighters and matches in the forest areas in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province has sparked a heated debate among netizens.

On Sunday, the Sichuan Mianning County Forest and Grassland Fire Prevention and Suppression Command issued a notice to residents on new restrictions for the purchase of lighters, matches and other items during the grassland fire prevention period.

The order prohibits the sale of lighters, matches and other flammable products to minors under 18 years of age and establishes a limit of one lighter per person. The regulation requires that ID cards must be presented for registration upon purchase.

Sellers are urged to enhance awareness on the responsibility of forest and grassland fire prevention.

“Once illegal and irregular business practices are discovered, the market supervision bureau will report to the public security bureau and other departments for severe punishment,” said the notice. 

This ban is regarded as the "strictest ever" and soon triggered a heated debate among netizens with some pointing out that this provision is unreasonable. A netizen wrote on China’s Twitter-like social networking platform, Sina Weibo, that “the focus should be on regulating behaviors, rather than prohibiting appliances. Is there no other way?” 

Others noted that the move was excessive and worried that it would affect the freedom of consumers. One netizen asked, "Is this right? Do we need to report for approval every time we light a fire in the future?” 

However, there were comments from locals in Mianning county defending the rule. Some pointed out that the current fire hazards are quite serious and that a rule like this is understandable. 

A local resident mentioned that "people who are not in the area would not know how dry this season is. The mountains are covered in a thick layer of dead branches and leaves, and the wind is too strong and the air humidity is below 20 percent. A random spark is the end of it!"

March and April is the traditional fire prevention season in Sichuan's Daliang Mountain forest area when the risk of forest and grassland fires is high. Mianning county issued a red warning on Sunday for forest and grassland fire danger indicating that the fire danger reached the highest level.

As of Sunday, Mianning county had investigated and processed 57 wildfire violations this year, with 51 people subject to administrative detention.

On December 30, 2020, the Sichuan provincial government also issued a strict fire prevention order that strictly prohibits smoking, lighting candles and torches, and fire heating within forest fire prevention zones, between January and June.

However, in January 2021, the province investigated and processed more than 400 cases of illegal wildfire use.

Global Times
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