Fire check frustration | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 02, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 02, 2012

Fire check frustration

Over 30pc of RMG factories visited so far poorly equipped; fire dept vows to cancel licence, take action against its inspectors


The fire brigade inspects different garment factories in Ashulia to check their fire safety equipment yesterday, a week after 111 people died in the Tazreen Fashions blaze. The photo shows a fire-dousing hose of a factory leaking badly.Photo: STAR

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One-third of the 89 garment factories visited by fire officials on the second day of safety inspection lack mechanisms to fight blaze.
The drive started in the wake of the deadly Tazreen Fashions fire that killed 111 workers on November 24.
Fifteen teams comprising 60 officials are visiting factories in Ashulia to put the fire safety arrangements into three categories -- A, B and C.
In two days of inspection, 163 of the 574 garment factories located in the Ashulia industrial belt were visited.
Some 53 factories, or over 30 percent of those visited by the teams, fall under the C category, meaning they lack fire safety licences, adequate fire extinguishers, hose pipes, water reservoirs and trained workers.
"The factories without fire safety licences will be shut down," said M Abdus Salam, director of Fire Service and Civil Defence, after the inspection yesterday.
And, factories with poor fire safety records would be given a month to address their faults, he added. "We will take action against the inspectors who have issued licences without verifying the fire safety measures.”
One of the teams, led by Abdus Salam, found that Annesha Style Ltd, a sweater maker at Nishchintapur, did not have adequate fire extinguishers and fire alarms, while the hose pipes were found to be leaking.
An annoyed Salam told Annesha officials: "For how many years did you not check the pipes? Workers are dying, don't you see that?”
The team also found ample fire risks at the factory's warehouse because of electrical short-circuit. As per regulations, warehouse lighting should be through power sources other than electricity.
Meanwhile, most workers were found lacking the knowledge to operate fire extinguishers.
“I have no idea,” said Sumi, who was sitting at a workstation next to a fire extinguisher.
Similar feedback came from some other workers at the factory.
The fire service team also found that the factory management did not conduct regular fire drills.
Asked, KM Ahsan Mia, general manager of Annesha Style, claimed the factory had updated its fire safety licence.
"We will show it tomorrow [today]," he told The Daily Star. He admitted that the company had been lethargic in addressing the shortcomings related to fire safety.
"But we will remove the lapses in line with the recommendations of the fire service department," he said.
The team also did not find a fire safety licence at S Nahar and Sons, a knit garment subcontracting factory located in the same building as Annesha Style Ltd.
When quizzed, Mashiur Rahman, director of the factory, could not come up with a satisfactory answer.
"We have leased the factory space from the previous owner. He had a fire safety licence, so we did not apply for our own. But now we will get it," said Mashiur.
The building also lacks adequate water reservoirs to fight fire.
The team also visited the Ha-Meem Group premises and suggested disconnecting electric connection from the bonded warehouse to ensure best fire safety measures.
“We will remove it soon,” said Md Masudur Rahman, human resources and compliance manager of Ha-Meem.
According to fire service laws, bonded warehouses must not have electric connection to avoid accidents.
The team also recommended setting up fire hydrant and heating detection systems at Ha-Meem Group.
Salam blamed negligence of the management of factories for not obtaining fire safety licence.
"Apart from legal issues, the factory owners have moral obligations to ensure proper and adequate fire safety measures for their workers," he said.

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