According to Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Deference, in 2012, there were 257 fire incidents in the RMG sector which killed about 116 workers, while in 2016, there were 311 such happenings in the apparel sector, but no death was recorded.
On the other hand, RMG factory owners had been able to control the fire of 143 incidents of 311 with their own equipment and manpower without the help of fire service.
These have been possible because of implementation of fire safety standards prescribed by the Accord and Alliance.
The Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Deference made a presentation on the fire safety status of Bangladesh at a day-long programme on “The State of Fire Safety in Bangladesh” organised by the International Labour Organization’s Improving Fire and General Building Safety in Bangladesh. The project is funded by the US Department of Labor in Dhaka yesterday.
As per the presentation, every year there are about 1,500 fire incidents in the country, of which 55% are caused by electrical fault, 14% by Cigarette. In the RMG sector, 75% to 80% of incidents are caused by electrical fault.
Currently, there are 315 fire service stations, which would reach 549 by the first part of 2017. The total manpower of the organisation stands at 9,000, of which 400 are internally trained up on dealing with fire incidents.
Both the government initiatives and the RMG factory owners investment help increase the capacity. As a result, death incidents came down drastically in the apparel industry, Brigadier General Ali Ahmed Khan told the Dhaka tribune.
“But fire safety is still a threat to the other sector,” Ali said stressing the need for government steps to ensure safety in the other sector.
Though a lot of measures have been taken, there are still some challenges, i.e. delayed information about fire, lack of enough water sources, inadequate operational equipment, unauthorised storage of chemicals, lack of awareness and training and inadequate number of fire stations in the RMG dense areas.
An unplanned urbanisation and industrialization, unregulated building construction, narrow roads and traffic jam and implementation of existing rules and regulations are other problems that stand in the way to stem the fire incidents.