Strictly follow building, fire safety rules

6 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Following every manmade disaster such as the collapse of a building like Rana Plaza or fire disasters like the ones that happened at Nimtali, Chawkbazar, Tazreen Fashions or FR Tower, there is a scurry of activities among all concerned to do the needful to prevent repetition of such disasters.

Let a few months pass, most of the people involved gradually forget the disaster, except those whose families are directly affected by the tragedies, and we let our guards down till another calamity strikes us. Once the next big catastrophe comes around to remind us of the previous ones, again we get active and make fresh promises about building codes and fire safety.

The reason behind this lethargy is not apathy. Rather a feeling of inadequacy engulfs those who are entrusted with the work. They are naturally overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead. It can happen to the best of us. Many public and private buildings were constructed without following safety issues due to inadequate knowledge.

But the massive work of ensuring safety of buildings must be done, even if by piecemeal, as some of our cities are gearing up to become future megacities. All future structures must follow building codes and all other safety measures. Authorities should not allow any laxity in this matter either in private or public structures. The cost of oversight is too high as it involves precious lives of people. 

In addition to installation of safety gadgets and mechanisms, practical advocacy programs must be undertaken to prepare the public for both natural and manmade disasters like earthquake and fire. Preparing people to act with a cool head at times of unforeseen calamities could go a long way towards saving many lives.

According to authorities, some 17,000 fire incidents occur annually in Bangladesh. Situations rapidly turn calamitous, causing huge loss to life and property when fires erupt in densely populated areas or slums. An early warning fire alarm system "Lumkani," a low-cost heat detector device connected to each other via network is being installed in Dhaka slums. Traditional smoke detectors are ineffective here as slum dwellers often use lighting and cooking methods that produce smoke.