Hardisiswan, who is the head of the Central Jakarta Firefighter Agency, was at home on Thursday at 6 a.m. when an officer from his office called and told him that a large fire was engulfing Senen Market.
“Oh, it’s happening again,” Hardisiswan said to himself, recalling a fire that engulfed the market for three days in 2014. By the time he arrived on the scene that Thursday morning, the fire had burned down hundreds of kiosks in the market’s Block I and Block II.
It took more than 500 firefighters across the capital to help put the fire out. It took them 24 hours to completely extinguish the fire that started at 4:20 a.m.
No casualties have been reported in the incident. The fireprone environment was said to be the main reason why the fire was hard to put out. The damaged kiosks contained inflammable material such as clothes and textiles.
As a commanding officer, Hardisiswan did not join his firefighters who grabbed the hoses and entered the market. He was required to stay in the command center car to give orders to the firefighters and decide when the job was done. However, he could more or less imagine what it was like to be inside. The firefighters, he said, had to put out the fire while struggling to breathe in an atmosphere of highly toxic smoke coming from the burning textiles. “I was there [inside the market] in the 2014 fire and I’m not sure the condition is much different now,” Hardisiswan told The Jakarta Post.
While most of the fire had been put out by Thursday’s team, the Friday team had another hard task to do: to cool down the building.
By 12 p.m., the firefighters focused on “sweeping out” the flame from one side to the other multiple times to make sure that the large fire would not reignite.
One of the Friday team firefighters, Ahmad Faisal, arrived at the scene at around 8:30 a.m. and by noon he had been in and out the market three times to check on the hot spots. Sitting on the pavement just in front of the burned market, Ahmad said the hot spots were mostly located inside locked kiosks.
“We need around 15 or 20 minutes to break the locks or kiosk doors. When we go inside, we have to remove the piles of textiles and spray the area to make sure there are no hot spots left,” Ahmad said.
It is not the first time Senen Market has caught on fire. On April 25, 2014, fire burned down 2,996 kiosks, leaving thousands of vendors in misery.
In response to the incident, the Jakarta administration is planning to audit the safety of all market buildings in the capital.
Acting Jakarta Governor Soni Sumarsono said on Friday he had ordered his subordinates to evaluate the buildings, especially markets owned by city-owned companies, including developer PT Pembangunan Jaya and market operator PT Pasar Jaya.
He said a building that had already obtained a Building Worthiness Certificate (SLF) was usually equipped with fire safety equipment like water sprinklers and fire extinguishers.
“Therefore, we need to double check them to make sure such facilities are available,” Sumarsono said.
“We will evaluate the buildings. If they are technically dangerous, we will demolish them and rebuild them,” he added. In terms of rebuilding the market, Sumarsono said Pembangunan Jaya would receive insurance worth Rp 116.9 billion (US$8.7 million) for the building.
“The company will not have any problems rebuilding the market,” he said.