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Kader Industrial Doll Factory Fire ,The Facility

1The Kader facility, which manufactured stuffed toys and plastic dolls primarily intended for export to the United States and other developed countries, is located in the Sam Phran District of Nakhon Pathom Province. This is not quite halfway between Bangkok and the nearby city of Kanchanaburi, the site of the infamous Second World War railroad bridge over the River Kwai.
The structures that were destroyed in the blaze were all owned and operated directly by Kader, which owns the site. Kader has two sister companies that also operate at the location on a lease arrangement.

The Kader Industrial (Thailand) Co. Ltd. was first registered on 27 January 1989, but the company's licence was suspended on 21 November 1989, after a fire on 16 August 1989 destroyed the new plant. This fire was attributed to the ignition of polyester fabric used in the manufacture of dolls in a spinning machine. After the plant was rebuilt, the Ministry of Industry allowed it to reopen on 4 July 1990.

Between the time the factory reopened and the May 1993 fire, the facility experienced several other, smaller fires. One of them, which occurred in February 1993, did considerable damage to Building Three, which was still being repaired at the time of the fire in May 1993. The February fire occurred late at night in a storage area and involved polyester and cotton materials. Several days after this blaze a labour inspector visited the site and issued a warning that pointed out the plant's need for safety officers, safety equipment and an emergency plan.

Initial reports following the May 1993 fire noted that there were four buildings on the Kader site, three of which were destroyed by the fire. In a sense this is true, but the three buildings were actually a single E-shaped structure (see figure 39.13), the three primary portions of which were designated Buildings One, Two and Three. Nearby was a one-storey workshop and another four-storey structure referred to as Building Four.

The E-shaped building was a four-storey structure composed of concrete slabs supported by a structural steel frame. There were windows around the perimeter of each floor and the roof was a gently sloped, peaked arrangement. Each portion of the building had a freight elevator and two stairwells that were each 1.5 metres (3.3 feet) wide. The freight elevators were caged assemblies.

Each building at the plant was equipped with a fire alarm system. None of the buildings had automatic sprinklers, but portable extinguishers and hose stations were installed on outside walls and in the stairwells of each building. None of the structural steel in the building was fireproofed.

There is conflicting information about the total number of workers at the site. The Federation of Thai Industries had pledged to help 2,500 plant employees displaced by the fire, but it is unclear how many employees were at the site at any one time. When the fire occurred, it was reported that there were 1,146 workers in Building One. Thirty-six were on the first floor, 10 were on the second, 500 were on the third, and 600 were on the fourth. There were 405 workers in Building Two. Sixty of them were on the first floor, 5 were on the second, 300 were on the third and 40 were on the fourth. It is not clear how many workers were in Building Three since a portion of it was still being refurbished. Most of the workers at the plant were women.

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