Factories must have 25pc open space on rooftops
The government's fire department will not renew the fire licences of garment factories that do not have at least 25 percent open space on their rooftops.
“The renewal of the fire licences will start from next month. If any factory fails to comply with the rules by this time, we will not renew their licences,” said Ali Ahmed Khan, director general of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence.
Many of the factories have tin-shed extensions on their rooftops, and in many cases, the extensions span all throughout the floor, leaving hardly any open space for emergency exits.
The government in 2010 made it mandatory for factories to spare 25 percent space on the rooftop following a deadly fire at a garment factory in Gazipur, where 21 died from smoke inhalation.
Later in February 2011, Begum Monnujan Sufian, state minister for labour and employment, instructed the sector's trade bodies to remove illegal tin-sheds from the rooftops of all factories.
Despite several reminders, many garment factories are yet to go by the instruction.
Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, however, said they refuse renewal of membership if a factory fails to comply with the rule.
Meanwhile, the fire department on June 3 sent letters to inform the secretaries of the ministries of commerce, home affairs and industries, of its decision, said Khan of the Fire Service and Civil Defence.