POST TIME: 1 April, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 31 March, 2019 11:22:15 PM
Fire safety awareness at all levels

Fire safety awareness at all levels

The recent back to back fire accidents in Banani and at the Gulshan 1 kitchen market have left us dumb in shock and grief. These accidents prove that despite warnings, fire safety has been treated with total nonchalance. Otherwise, how can absence of proper fire dousing materials in a high rise building at an upscale part of town is explained? A few years ago, an alarming revelation by the Electronic, Safety and Security Association of Bangladesh (ESSAB), was that every year, 233 people die and 5000 are injured due to fire related accidents.

The annual loss from fire incidents is Tk. 4834 crore while in the last six years, the total damage is worth Tk 29000 crore with a staggering 1400 deaths. Naturally, these are worrying figures; the worry compounds even further because fire related industrial accidents happen every year in Bangladesh. Though following the devastating Tazrin factory fire major industries have become compliant, a large scale awareness about fire safety is still absent. In small factories and sprawling shopping markets, the fire safety measures are either inadequate or the equipment available, very rudimentary. In addition, in large markets for the middle class, fire drills are hardly held. The result of such negligence has been fatal with several markets razed to the ground by late night short circuits. In the shanty towns, the situation is worse because these areas, providing living space for the urban low income people, never experience fire tackling training. Some well-known real estate companies have fire awareness sessions for tenants and flat owners, though such activities are rare in most apartment blocks of the city. Fire safety exhibitions, featuring fire specialists plus necessary equipment, have to be held in the city wards, especially in the congested old part of Dhaka.

Safety needs to be taken where it’s needed the most. Schools, colleges and universities have to be inspected by fire service officials of each locality to record existing measures and suggest proper equipment. From the side of the city corporation, any apartment block lacking proper fire emergency features will need to be fined heavily. Since major cities in Bangladesh are expanding, the stance in ensuring fire safety has to be firm with stringent steps in case of non-compliance. The city wards can start the first step in raising awareness by distributing leaflets, marking out the important steps in case of a fire related incident; also, ward commissioners, with help from local people, can set up small reservoirs of water which can be used both for accidents or to tackle water shortage.