173 bank branches highly risky, 647 branches risky
Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense has listed 647 branches of state-owned and private commercial banks in the capital that are at risk of fire.
The list also includes foreign banks and the head offices of several commercial banks.
The Fire Service and Civil Defense inspected 692 branches altogether of different banks.
Among the inspected branches, 647 are at risk of catching fire.
Among the risky branches, 173 branches are categorized as highly risky. However in 45 branches, fire protection systems were found to be satisfactory.
The list of risky banks includes, the head offices of Sonali Bank, Bangladesh Krishi Bank, Bangladesh Development Bank, National Bank of Pakistan on Gulshan Avenue, and State Bank of India in Motijheel.
Of the state-owned commercial banks, 29 Sonali Bank branches are at risk, including 10 in the highly risky category. Likewise, there are 38 Janata Bank branches at risk of fire, including 15 in the high risk category, while Agrani Bank has 16 branches at risk, including five in the high risk category.; Rupali Bank’s 21 branches at risk includes seven highly risky branches prone to fire related disasters.
Among the private commercial banks, 23 Islami Bank Bangladesh branches are at risk, with six in the high risk category; two of 20 Bank Asia branches at risk, are in the highy risk zone; 26 Dutch-Bangla Bank branches at risk include six highly risky branches; 16 at risk Pubali Bank branches include 6 high risk ones; there are14 at risk Prime Bank branches, of which two are at high risk; Social Islami Bank has 15 at risk branches, of which four are highly risky branches, rounding out the list of branches where disaster can strike at anytime.
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Pubali Bank Managing Director and CEO, MA Halim Chowdhury, said: “The Bangladesh Bank has a guideline for setting up new branches where fire safety is mentioned.
“We have adequate fire extinguishers at all of our branches. Besides, at the time of building selection for the branches, most buildings were found to have restaurants or hotels in them.”
“To be honest, most of the buildings of Dhaka city are at risk of fire. So it is difficult to find a safe building to set up a bank branch,” he added.
Several branches of Jamuna Bank, United Commercial Bank, Shahajalal Islami Bank, Mutual Trust Bank, NRB Commercial Bank, Southeast Bank, Mercantile Bank, First Security Islami Bank, Premier Bank, Standard Bank, Bangladesh Commerce Bank, One Bank, Dhaka Bank, National Bank, ICB Islamic Bank, Brac Bank, Trust Bank, EXIM Bank, NCC Bank, Union Bank, Modhumoti Bank, Meghna Bank, Al-Arafah Islami Bank, Uttara Bank, Eastern Bank are also at risk of fire according to the inspection data.
Things considered during the inspection
The Fire Service said it considered the following things while the inspections were carried out: the type of buildings; basements and semi-basements; ventilation systems; water reservoirs; fire fighting pumps; types of stairs; numbers and types of emergency exits; lifts and their capacity; fire lifts; ramps; slope ratio and its width; safety lobby at the floor; width of main gate of the building; generators; transformer and switch gear room; ;pump rooms; fire control rooms; sprinkler head in basement; hydrant valves; emergency calling and exit systems; thunder resistance, and so on.
Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense Director General, Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan, said: “We will provide technical support to make those buildings fire safety compliant, gradually. The garments sector had a big problem in the case of fire safety. But they are already under the compliance rule and following accordingly.”
“Like the garments sector, we will do the same in other sectors also. We will train them and make them aware of various processes,” he added.
Bangladesh Bank spokesman and Executive Director, Serajul Islam, said: “Security concerns are most important in the approval of bank branches in any building.
Fire safety is the first priority for opening a branch. Bangladesh Bank has been monitoring all the branches, and banks are always alerted by the central bank about fire safety.”