The sales of fire-fighting equipment have soared following the blazes at Old Dhaka’s Chawkbazar on Feb 20 and Banani’s FR Tower on Mar 28, leaving at least 100 people dead.
The incidents have also spurred the authorities into action as different government bodies are conducting inspection drives at buildings in the city. Not to lag behind, traders have raised the prices of fire safety kits to capitalise on a recent upsurge in demand for the equipment.
Most of the garment factories, hospitals and big institutions have enough fire safety equipment, according to wholesale distributors and retailers of fire equipment in Nawabpur. But some of the offices, storehouses, or high rise residential buildings lack sufficient fire safety equipment, they added. The authorities of such buildings account for the bulk of the recent purchases of fire equipment.
Fire extinguishers have the highest demand, said business owners. People are buying the chemical powder, carbon dioxide gas and foam cylinders too, they added. Also, oxygen masks, fire resistant clothing, water hose pipes, fireball extinguishers, buckets, fire alarms, smoke alarms, safety belts, goggles, helmets and stretchers have higher sales, they said. Building-owner Ashraful Islam said that he had the necessary fire-fighting system in place when he constructed his eight-storey building in Tejgaon. But all the equipment has fallen into disrepair after years of lying idle, he said. Now, he has to purchase replacements for them as authorities have begun to conduct safety drives.
“People like me are streaming in to buy fire safety equipment, leading sellers to raise prices through the roof. I have to buy these despite the exorbitant prices as we must keep the equipment in the building,” he said. Prices of the fire extinguishers range from Tk 1,200 to Tk 5,000, based on its quality and brand, said traders.
People are mostly buying the extinguishers which use chemical powder. A small extinguisher using chemical powder, which previously cost below Tk 1,000, is now sold at prices between Tk 1,200 and Tk 1,500, according to both buyers and sellers. Prices have increased for other equipment too, they said. The price for fire safety equipment has been increased only at the retail level, said the wholesalers.