Wasa said higher water pressure is required to install the system
Despite being a cost-effective tool to extinguish blazes, fire hydrants are not going to be installed in Dhaka in the next three years.
The Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa), responsible for installing hydrants, said there is no scope to do so by 2022 since it lacks the mechanism to facilitate a powerful flow of surface water.
Md Abul Kashem, director (development) of Wasa, said they have planned to introduce hydrants, but it will not happen as they have to ensure adequate surface water for the high-pressure water supply needed for hydrants.
However, experts brushed aside Wasa's claims, since it is also possible to use groundwater to douse blazes; using fire hydrants that are much more cost-effective than other modern tools used in firefighting.
Dr Mehedi Ahmed Ansary of the Centre for Regional Development Studies at Buet said there is no need to look for groundwater or surface water while using fire hydrants.
“Any kind of supply or Wasa water connection will work,” he observed.
Citing that Chittagong Wasa has already installed 30 such hydrants across the premier port city, Dr Mehedi said Dhaka Wasa can consult its Chittagong counterpart about the matter.
“Installing fire hydrants does not need massive funding. So, why is there a delay in installing them in Dhaka where fire incidents have been frequent?” he said.
Fire Service and Civil Defence Deputy Director Debashish Bardhan said they have repeatedly proposed Wasa install fire hydrants in Dhaka, but to no avail.
“They [Wasa] do supply us water whenever a fire breaks out. However, fire hydrants are so much more effective and easy to use,” he said.
Dr Mehedi said: “If the hydrants are in an old city like Kolkata, why cannot they be installed in Dhaka?”
“Ideally, hydrants are erected every 500m, but in a burgeoning city like Dhaka the distance between every two hydrants has to be less,” he stated.
According to Wasa, 800 water pumps are functional across the capital city, from which water is supplied to the scene of fire incidents in case of emergency.
However, supplying water in such a manner is hectic because of bad traffic in Dhaka during most times of the day, Debashish said.
Wasa Director Kashem said: "It is a must for high-rise buildings to have water reservoirs so that they can help supply water during emergencies.
On March 28, when fire at Banani's FR Tower claimed the lives of 26, the Parliamentary Standing Committee at the Disaster Management and Relief Affairs Ministry asked Wasa to install fire hydrants across Dhaka to combat fire accidents.
Chittagong Wasa is going to install 200 fire hydrants at different points in the city.