Lack of fire extinguishers, violation of
building code and faulty design blamed
Golam Mostafa Jibon:Thousands of buildings especially factories in the country including Dhaka, Narayanganj and Gazipur are at fire risk. Faulty design, violation of building code, lack of fire extinguishers and adequate stairs are blamed for it.
Therefore, panic of devastating fire incidents, which can take place anytime, is prevailing among the workers and employees. But, there is no headache over the issue among the authorities concerned.
Sources said, furious fire incidents may be occurred at anytime as there is no necessary surveillance in those factories. When any major fire incident occurs somewhere in the country, the race begins among the concerned people. One after another probe body is formed. The hue and cry is lasted for a few days or weeks. Then everything stops. Thus, many such factory owners remain out of reach as most of them are supporters and leaders of the ruling party.
The fire service and police in a report recently informed the home ministry that thousands of buildings especially factories in the country are at fire risk. Of them, buildings and factories located in Dhaka, Chattogram, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Savar are at high risk. The report also recommended for taking legal action against them, who are responsible for it.
Meanwhile, senior officials of the police and Fire Service and Civil Defense Department in a meeting after the devastating fire incident at Rupganj in Narayanganj have taken some decisions with a view to prevent frequent fire incidents at different factories and warehouses.
The officials vowed to enforce strict laws against factories that do not have firefighting equipments.
Paribesh Bachao Andolon (POBA) in a statement yesterday urged the government to take immediate steps to pay compensation to the relatives of the workers and employees, who lost their lives and sustained burn injuries from the devastating fire at Shezan Juice Factory in Narayanganj. The organization also demanded exemplary punishment to the authorities concerned of the factory for mismanagement over fire safety issues. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said, a list of factories that do not have fire extinguishing systems is being produced for action. The factories are being monitored by the concerned officers. There is no chance of getting any kind of concession. Both the fire service and police department have been asked to work on it. Besides, RAJUK and City Corporation are also working over the issue.
Shafiqul Islam, Chief and Additional Inspector General of Industrial Police said, “It was the responsibility of RAJUK, City Corporation and Fire Service to monitor the matter of approval and construction of any building or factory and whether it has fire fighting equipments or not. We only work to ensure care about the safety of the workers and those concerned. Even then, we are trying to bring the factories under monitoring. After the fire at a juice factory in Rupganj on Thursday last, several new instructions have been given to the concerned officials from the high-ups.
Police and fire service officials said, devastating fire incidents are being noticed somewhere of the country almost every day that causes of claiming many lives and losing of assets worth crores of Taka.
They further said, the largest fire incident occurred in 2010. That year, 29 workers died in a factory fire at the Hamim Group in Ashulia.
Some 112 workers died in Tajnin fashion at Nishchintapur of Ashulia and 21 in another factory named Ashulia Garib and Garib in 2012.
Some seven people lost their lives in Smart factory in Gazipur in 2013 and 35 workers lost their lives in a factory named Tampco Foils in Tongi in 2016.
A massive fire had raged through a multi-storey building at Churihatta in Old Dhaka on the night of February 20 in 2019 leaving 78 people dead and over 100 injured. Besides, the Nimtoli fire tragedy is still haunting several hundreds of people in Old Dhaka.
Sources said, 17,488 fire incidents occurred in the country in 2015, while some 16,858 incidents took place in 2016, some 18,105 in 2017, some 19,642 in 2018, some 24,074 in 2019, some 21,073 in 2020 and some 7,000 till June in 2021.
Even after so many fire incidents, the authorities concerned are not paying heeds in this regard.
The activities of the factories all over the country are going on in various irregularities and mismanagement. Most of the factories do not have fire extinguishing system. Many got away with it for political reasons.
Sources said, more than 100 fire incidents occur every year only in Gazipur areas, which is rich for various industries including garment, chemical, electronics, textile mills and warehouses.
There are allegations that the concerned authorities are responsible for inspect the fire extinguishing systems of the factories regularly, but they don’t do this in time.
Fire service sources, there are about 2,000 small and big factories in Gazipur. But, most of those factories have no fire protection system. Consequently, workers and employees of the factories along with huge assets have remained at fire risk.
Recently, the fire service department has become active after the fire incidents in different places including Gazipur, Tongi, Dhaka and Narayanganj. The department wants to take steps to reduce the risk of fire and action against faulty building owners. But, many feel that this is not enough. Moreover, at least 600 factories in different parts of Dhaka, Savar, Ashulia, Narayanganj and Chattogram are also at extreme risk. The Fire Service and Civil Defense Department and Police Headquarters informed the concerned ministry about the matter recently seeking proper instruction. It has been suggested to take action against those involved in a quick time.
Director General of the Fire Service and Civil Defense Brigadier General Sajjad Hossain said that strict action would be taken against the factories which did not have fire-fighting equipments. Work is underway to identify those factories which do not have equipments.
Gazipur Fire Service Deputy Director Abdul Hamid Mia said, “It was mandatory to get fire service certificate for factories. Inspectors should inspect the factories regularly. Many factories do not pay much attention to fire safety after getting fire license. Many building were not constructed according to the law or building code.”
He complained that, many building and factories’ owners, who are at risk, are not following the directives despite repeated requests to set up necessary firefighting systems. Authorities also failed to alert the building owners by hanging risky banners in multiple buildings. In addition, after the construction of multi-storey buildings, it is mandatory to get fire safety clearance from the fire service office, but many building owners are not doing so.
It is to be mentioned that, a devastating fire that broke out at Shezan Juice Factory at Rupganj in Narayanganj on Thursday last, claimed 52 lives. Over 50 people sustained burn injuries in the fire. Many of them are still undergoing treatment at different hospitals including DMCH burn unit.
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