• Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019
  • Last Update : 11:07 pm

Always at risk

  • Published at 12:04 am February 20th, 2019
Fire
Photo: MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

Some 97.5% of Dhaka’s hospitals are fire risks, with inadequate fire safety equipment

It should not take a devastating incident like the fire at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College to make the authorities wake up and take heed of the woeful state of fire safety in our hospitals.

But sadly, only such a tragedy -- the gutting of a part of the building at the hospital -- has made us take a long, hard look at the fire status in 432 government hospitals, non-government hospitals, and rehabilitation centres, and the findings are nothing if not alarming.

Some 97.5% of Dhaka’s hospitals are fire risks, with inadequate fire safety equipment, and are thus classified as being at risk, with over 40% being in a highly vulnerable state.

As we check off the boxes in our development goals for the country, sadly, our lives continue to be plagued by various dangers, of which the lack of fire safety is an important one.

Hospitals -- even large, prestigious, private hospitals -- try to save money any way they can, thus they cut corners on things like safety, and for the most part, patients do not object, as the unlikely event of a fire incident is hardly a priority for most people.

But this mindset needs to change -- because a true marker of how we have advanced as a nation is how much we pay attention to the wellbeing and safety of our citizens.

Economic growth is not enough; we need the assurance of physical safety for all people, in hospitals, in factories, in homes, and this will only happen if we are uncompromising about safety standards, and the authorities make sure nobody violates fire safety rules, and those who do are penalized.

For too long, safety has been secondary to all other concerns; it is high time that changed.