POST TIME: 25 June, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Fire security measures inadequate in Chandpur buildings

Fire security measures inadequate in Chandpur buildings

Fire security measures in buildings in Chandpur district town and Hajiganj Sadar are grossly inadequate, exposing businessmen, office employees and those living in those buildings to fire hazards.

This was stated by Chandpur Fire Service and Civil Defence Station (Uttar) deputy assistant director Md Farid Ahmed to The Independent. Senior station officer Md Mobarak Ali also expressed similar views.

In the wake of recent devastating fire incidents in Dhaka, this office has physically inspected many high-rise buildings in Chandpur district town and Hajiganj Sadar, other establishments and residential complexes.

Farid Ahmed and his team said none of the buildings inspected had the requisite facilities to extinguish fire in case of an emergency.

“There are no hydrant points or any hose pipe reels or even spacious stairs/double stairs to enable a swift operation and movement of fire fighters,” added Farid Ahmed.

He also said the buildings lacked ‘exit points’ through which people could rush out and save themselves in the event of a fire. Such poor conditions prevail in many government offices, banks, hospitals, big shopping malls, and busy markets in Chandpur, Hajiganj and six other Sadar towns.

The owners of most of these high-rises did not think of taking prior permission from the Fire Service and Civil Defence Station, said sources in the department. Only the owners of some seven to eight high-rise buildings in Chandpur had taken prior permission regarding fire safety measures from the Fire Service and Civil Defence Station (Uttar), Chandpur .

In Hajiganj town, a few owners of high-rise buildings took prior permission from Fire Service and Civil Defence Station as per government rules. But most such owners in Chandpur district town and Hajiganj town (a flourishing upazila located next to the Chandpur-Cumilla regional highway) seem to have carefully avoided the department, said Farid Ahmed. There are some 25 high-rise buildings (more than five floors) in Chandpur district town and 20 in Hajiganj Sadar town.

“We are issuing notices, urging the owners of high-rise buildings to install adequate fire safety devices including exit points. Fire incidents are higher this year in Chandpur district than last year,” said Farid Ahmed.

Official records show in May there were 33 fire incidents in the district, in April 44, in March 42, in February, 23, and in January 27.

Women fire fighters were urgently needed, said many affected people.

Since January, five people have died due to injuries caused by fire incidents.

In 2018, there were a total of 200 fire incidents in the district. There are yet no Fire Service and Civil Defence Station in Matlab Uttar and Faridganj upazilas, though the affected people and traders of these upazilas have long been demanding fire station and civil defence offices.

Considering the frequent fire outbreaks, the government should open a burn unit in the 250-bed Chandpur General Hospital. Most of those injured by fire die while being taken to the DMCH in Dhaka, locals say.

Officials of the Fire Service and Civil Defence (Uttar) office, Chandpur, told this correspondent that they are afflicted with shortage of manpower. "At present, we have some 21 fire fighters in this fire station. There are only 16 fire fighters at the Chandpur Fire Station (South) in Puran Bazar. The same is the case in other fire stations in the district,” said an official.

Many people said the number of fire fighters must be increased immediately to cope with the growing fire incidents caused by boiler blasts, gas cylinder blasts and electrical short circuits.