We are filled with sorrow at the lives lost in the terrible fire at FR Tower in Banani yesterday. The scenes of people jumping off the building to sure death or grievous injury and others desperately trying to climb down ledges and air conditioner shafts, shown live on TV, are hard to forget. At the time of writing this editorial, several people had jumped off the building and been taken to hospitals nearby and there were people trapped inside the building—their condition unknown.
But even without the latest facts it is obvious that safeguards in case of such a fire hazard in this building leave much to be desired. We are shocked that people tried to escape the fumes by jumping off the building or precariously climbing down as there were no fire escapes. This is a mandatory requirement for all high rise buildings and it is a case of gross negligence on the part of the building owners as well as the authorities that give permission to construct these buildings that such fire escapes have not been built.
With buildings so close together and many factors that could cause a fire—short circuits, faulty gas lines or wiring, poor pipefitting, improperly stored combustible materials or open flames, gas leaks from air conditioners—it would be inconceivable that basic precautions would not be ensured in these buildings.
The location of the fire allowed for fire fighters to come in fairly quickly unlike the horrific Chawkbazar tragedy which was intensified because the lanes were too narrow for firefighting trucks to come in. But the speed with which the fire spread is a shocking reminder of how vulnerable these high rises are to fire hazards. We urge the owners of these buildings and of the establishments that have rented space in them to ensure that all measures are taken to ensure that fires can be put out quickly (by making sure there are enough fire extinguishers, that they work and there are people who know how to use them) and that people inside the building can be evacuated quickly through safe fire escapes. Smoke-detectors, sprinklers and fire extinguishers must be installed and regularly checked. Regular fire drills have to be enforced. Rajuk must be especially diligent about enforcing basic building codes. We should not have to bear the grief of losing precious lives to fire hazards because of negligence in safety standards. While accidents can and do occur precaution and appropriate facilities reduces the risk and minimises the tragic consequences should they happen.