Offices strengthening fire safety measures

Ahamed Ullah

3 April, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Most of the offices in capital Dhaka are strengthening their fire safety measures after the recent devastating fires in the city.

Panic has spread among the people working at offices -- government, non-government or private -- in the capital, particularly those in high-rise buildings as they may turn into death traps if a fire breaks out there.

People are facing risk of life due to inadequate fire safety measures in most of the buildings, especially in high-rises, in the capital.

During a visit to several offices in Karwan Bazar, Gulshan and Banani areas on Tuesday, the daily correspondent found that many offices housed in high-rises are strengthening their fire safety measures.

Thakral Information Systems Pvt Ltd, located on level-10 at BDBL Building in Kawran Bazar, has installed some new fire-fighting equipment with the existing fire extinguishers. Besides, old fire extinguishers have been rechecked and refilled.

Al Amin, head of administration department at Thakral Information Systems, said: “We have to ensure our colleagues’ safety. That’s why we’ve strengthened our own fire safety measures. We’ve sent a letter to the building authorities for checking fire safety at the building.”

Arman Mursalin Amin, an employee of a private company, told the daily sun: “After the fire incidents, our offices have strengthened fire safety measures.”

“Our offices have brought some new fireball and fire extinguishers. All the old fire extinguishers have been checked and refilled.”

“I’m very happy that our office has taken fire safety measures. I think that every office should do it,” he added.

According to the Fire Protection Act 2003, all the buildings, including the commercial ones, must have sufficient fire-fighting equipment and conform to measures of public security.

But most of the buildings in the capital don’t have enough safety equipment, emergency exits and sufficient space between adjacent buildings.

Mozammel Haque, former deputy director of the Fire Service Civil Defence (FSCD), told the Daily Sun: “About fire safety, we still understand having fire extinguishers. But this is not enough.”

In multi-storey buildings it is important to follow some fire safety rules, including emergency exit, raiser installation, automatic sprinkler, underground water reservoir, fire-fighting pump house, smoke and heat detection system installation and fire lift construction, he added.

The FSCD conducted a survey of buildings in 2017. They visited 3,786 establishments in the capital and found 1069 extremely risky, 2,588 risky and only 129 satisfactory.

The establishments include schools, colleges, universities, shopping malls, banks, hospitals, media centres and residential hotels.

Then, FSCD sent letters to the organisations concerned, asking them to strengthen their fire-fighting systems within a month, but no company strengthened their fire-fighting system.

Architect and urban planner Iqbal Habib told the Daily Sun: “Fire safety issue was not mandatory till 2008. So, many buildings constructed before the period may not have fire safety measures.”

“But it doesn’t mean that they need not fulfil that. They must have to comply with the fire safety rules soon.”

“Fire safety measures in those buildings can be ensured and strengthened through corrective measures,” he added.

Md Wahid Uddin, owner of Olympia Fire Solution, told the Daily Sun that sales of fire-fighting equipment have gone up after the deadly fire incidents.

The maximum buyers of the products are owners of small offices located in high-rises, he said, adding that due to safety concerns, they installed it at their office.

He said that the fire safety issue shouldn‘t be taken lightly. It is a very critical aspect of ensuring public safety. A fire can start anywhere at any time if the right precautions are not taken.

“A small fire can turn into an inferno very quickly and has the potential to cause huge damage to property and a loss of life,” Wahid added.

He further said: “I urge the government to exempt the sector from tax at source for at least three years so that people can install and buy fire protection products for their homes, offices and industries.”