Bangladesh buildings without fire safety: Crackdown begins next week

Bangladesh fire service and city corporation authorities will start a drive against buildings and factories without fire safety plans from next week. The decision comes after a fire at a high-rise building in Gulshan on Sunday killed at least two people and injured many others.

Firefighters found that during construction, the owners obtained a no-objection certificate from the fire service, but they didn’t get an approved fire safety plan which is mandatory under the fire prevention act.

Brig Gen Md Main Uddin, director general of Fire Service and Civil Defence, yesterday told reporters that buildings that do not comply with fire safety rules will be identified. “We will check if they have fire safety plans and licence,” he said, urging city dwellers to be aware of fire safety rules.

The fire service last year inspected 5,869 establishments and buildings, including the government ones, and found 617 buildings “very risky” and 1,606 “risky”. In Dhaka, officials inspected 1,162 buildings and marked 136 “very risky” and 499 “risky”. Besides, numerous chemical and plastic factories and storage facilities are operated illegally in old Dhaka.
A fire at a chemical storage facility in old Dhaka’s Churihatta cost 71 lives in 2019.
Asked about these factories, Brig Gen Main said the fire service has stopped providing licences to them.

The fire service is working with the city corporations and Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) to identify the buildings that are not built as per the Bangladesh National Building Code, he said.

“We have 14,000 trained firefighters. We also have advanced equipment. But these certainly will not be enough if there is a major disaster. We are continuing our training and drills to prepare for disasters. “We have 50,000 volunteers. The target was 62,000. We have trained over one lakh garment workers. Everyone is training their family members and communities. Besides, we are providing training in schools and colleges.”