ADPC-iPrepare: Fire: An Urban Disaster

Fire: An Urban Disaster

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Post by Tasnim Jerin   and Kazi Sumaiya Shorna
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The economy of Bangladesh is largely dependent on the Ready–Made Garments (RMG) sector now. Since the 1980s the RMG sector has experienced an exponential growth and this sector contributes significantly to the GDP. It also provides employment to around 4.2 million Bangladeshis, mainly women from low income families and this contributes around 76 percent to the total export earnings. But now this sector is getting vulnerable by facing an urban disaster FIRE.

If we flashback the fire incidents at garments factories, we can see that from 1990 to 2014 around 24 major fire accidents occurred.

These incidents caused loss of lives, economic losses, property damage etc. Only fire at Tajreen Fashion Mall killed 124 people and at least 200 people were injured.

‘What should we do? We are poor. We have to work. I have children. If I don’t go to work, my children have to starve. We know that there are many dangers but we have to take risk of our life. We only pray to Allah to help us’ -a garment worker Fahima said.

Main reason of most of the fire incidents is electrical short circuit, but lack of fire safety features like escape routes, emergency exists, narrow escape routes, lack of proper management, lack of proper training to the workers, expire fire certificate, lack of proper monitoring, violation of fire safety code, lack of proper fire safety plan etc turn the fire incidents to a disaster.

Are we prepare to face this disaster?

Govt of Bangladesh, fire service, CPD, BDRCS and many organizations are now taking preparedness steps to face this urban disaster.

Youth Chief of BDRCS Dhaka City Unit Nodi said,’BDRCS is providing first aid training, search and rescue training to the people of all ages and classes. Also they are thinking to include the garment workers for basic trainings so that they can be practically ready for any fire incidents.’

Many organizations are taking plans to face and reduce this kind of disaster but the main constraint is those plans are not being implemented well enough because of corruption.

We hope that if the authority and garments owners take necessary steps such as proper monitoring of electronic machines and equipments, following the fire safety codes, having fire safety equipments available, providing training to the workers, development of awareness among the workers, guidelines for fire safety and security, emphasis on good governance etc, the casualty of fire incidents will be reduced and we can hope for a better environment at workplace for the workers.

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