Fire Chiefs From 10 Nations Confer in Tokyo

TOKYO, Jan. 24 (Kyodo) -- A conference of fire agency chiefs of 10 countries was held in Tokyo on Monday to discuss establishing cooperative networks in times of disasters.

The conference is aimed at building international networks so that fire and disaster management agencies can cooperate to respond rapidly to disasters, such as the December earthquake off Sumatra and resultant tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, Japanese government officials said.

The conference was hosted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which killed nearly 6,500 people in Kobe and its vicinity on Jan. 17, 1995.

Attending the meeting are fire agency chiefs from Britain, Egypt, France, Honduras, Mongolia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and the United States.

They are expected to exchange views on how to promote personnel exchanges, expand support systems for extinguishing fires and for disaster prevention, and establish a comprehensive support system for emergencies, ministry officials said.

Similar meetings will be held regularly in the future to discuss concrete measures for fire and disaster prevention, including setting up around-the-clock hot lines and a loan system for firefighting equipment to countries in need, they said.