Comilla has around 300 high-rise buildings, and most of them have no fire suppression system
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) has speculated that around 90% of the buildings in the city is facing serious fire hazard.
Comilla unit president of the top environmental organization in Bangladesh, Dr Mosleh Uddin made the comment, saying: “Most ponds and other water bodies in Comilla city have been filled, leaving no option for the fire service to douse flames.
“Around 90% of the buildings have no fire prevention and suppression systems whatsoever. Many city roads are too narrow for fire trucks and ambulances to enter. The administration must make a serious effort to increase vigilance before approving building plans,” he said.
The Dhaka Tribune has learned that any building having more than six floors is considered a high-rise building. Comilla city has around 300 high-rise buildings, and most of them have no fire suppression system or proper road access for fire trucks.
An insider from the Comilla Fire Service and Civil Defence pointed out that most of their firefighting equipment has become obsolete.
Responding to a query, fire service assistant director Ratan Kumar Nath said: “We do not have the equipment to douse fire on floors above the sixth. We inspect buildings for fire safety if a request is made to us, but many buildings have not been vetted properly.”
“We face a severe shortage of firefighting equipment and service personnel, but despite these issues, our existing personnel are performing their duties sincerely,” he said.
Addressing the issue, Comilla City Corporation Chief Executive Officer Anupam Barua said: “Before a building plan is approved for construction, its plans for fire safety systems are thoroughly checked.”
“A plan is approved only after inspection from the Fire Service and Civil Defence. We will increase vigilance so that no one can construct buildings without proper fire safety protocols,” he said.
On the night of February 20, a massive fire ravaged several multi-storey buildings on Nanda Kumar Lane in Chawkbazar’s Churihatta area of Old Dhaka, killing around 70 people.
Since this tragedy, several fire incidents have taken place in Comilla, including in a hospital in Jhautola, a shop named Queen’s Parlor and a ten-storey residential building.
Roads are too narrow in many areas of the city such as: Monohorpur, Bajrapur, Shuvopur, Racecourse, Thakurpara, Mogoltuli, Kaptan Bazar, Kaliyajuri and Bagichagaon. Areas such as the Mofijabad and Nunabad colonies face severe fire hazard, and suffer frequent fire incidents almost every year.