Ctg fire fighters unable to douse flames beyond sixth floor | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 19, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 19, 2009

Ctg fire fighters unable to douse flames beyond sixth floor

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Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) transports garbage on an open truck at daytime, violating its own rules. The photo was taken from Dampara Road on Monday.Photo: Zobaer Hossain Sikder

Fire fighters in the port city would have nothing to do but to watch helplessly in case of any incident of fire beyond sixth floor at a high-rise building due to lack of modern equipment and adequate human resources.
The need for modernising the Fire Service and Civil Defence Department and procurement of equipment was strongly felt again after the devastating fire at the country's largest shopping complex of Bashundhara City in the capital on March 13.
The department with its present equipment is capable of fighting fire up to sixth floor when the number of skyscrapers above that height has sprung in the port city with development sector blooms in the recent years, said the sources at the divisional headquarters of the department at Agrabad.
The department has no sufficient number of equipment like turntable ladder, snorkel, foam-tender, lighting unit, emergency tender, fire proof uniform, rescue rope required for fire fighting and rescue operation, they said.
It has only one snorkel at its Agrabad station when it needs at least three such equipment in the city alone. Other equipment that the department posses are water tender, special water tender, emergency tender and breakdown van.
There is no turntable ladder, which is vital for carrying out rescue operation in the highrise buildings, for the department, said Deputy Assistant Director Subhash Chandra Debnath.
The only emergency tender, a vehicle equipped with around 350 rescue equipment, was procured in Pakistan era for the Fire Service Headquarters, said Akhteruzzaman, senior station officer of Agrabad Fire Station.
Around 300 of the rescue equipment of the emergency tender have lost durability 10 to 12 years ago, he added,
Besides, the life-guns (equipment used for throwing floating ropes to rescue people caught up in strong current or being carried away by water) procured during the Pakistan period have lost longevity long before, said the fire fighters.
There are 39 fire stations in Chittagong division. Of them, 14 are A-grade stations, 22 are B-grade and three are C-grade, sources said.
Some 596 fire fighters are working in the fire stations against 698 posts.
Deputy Director Md Ruhul Amin said with the snorkel the department at present is able to fight fire up to seventh floor of a building.
But the snorkel cannot be used properly for narrow roads, hanging electric wires and densely constructed buildings, he said.
“In some incidents the snorkel could not be used as it could not move for lack of enough space,” he said.
Amin said he has sent a letter to the head office on Sunday for a turntable ladder that would be helpful to douse fire up to 12 floors of a high-rise building.
He said side by side modernising with equipment, the department needs to double its human resources to meet the present demand.
Amin also emphasised on ensuring modern fire fighting system inside the multi-storied buildings.
As per the Bangladesh National Building Code it is mandatory for installing own fire fighting system in high-rise buildings above seventh floors.
But, people hardly maintain such a system and care a little to follow the rules, said the sources attributing to lack of regular monitoring by the authorities concerned for this.
Amin said they are considering to start mobile court drives soon to monitor and ensure such a system.

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