Measures to stop fire Hazards: Analysis


Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed :

Fire is a tool of human civilization. Fire is used to drive vehicles, generate electricity and many other things.

Modern civilized world cannot survive without fire. But this fire causes a lot of loss of lives and properties every year. If we look for the reason, we will find that our ignorance and carelessness are responsible for this loss.

Fire accidents have become a civic concern of ours. Among the various disasters, fire disaster is a serious disaster. According to the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense, more than 20,000 people have died in Bangladesh from 2009 to 2024 by fire accidents.

According to their data, the main causes of fires are three – electrical disturbances, stove fires and cigarette fires. 80 percent of all fires occur for these three reasons. Fire is the result of chemical reactions of certain objects or many objects that produce heat and light.

Fire is the continuous burning process through uninterrupted chemical reactions of the three components of combustible material, oxygen and heat. Fire statistics show that every year the origin of the fire is identified mostly from the stove.

In the country, massive fire explosions and accidents at different times have caused huge loss of property along with human calamities one after another due to chemical and inflammable substances.

There is lack of proper supervision, inspection and surveillance by the authorities of Fire Service, Department of Explosives and Department of Environment.

Moreover, unintended accidents continue to occur due to non-exemplary punishment against the culprits and negligence, irregularities, mismanagement and non-compliance of fire safety guidelines by the factory owners.

The ordinary citizens are the victim. Although unexpected incidents such as loss of life in tragic accidents have occurred in the country from time to time, accidents have become common phenomena due to the indifference, negligence and failure of the government authorities and owners to take proper effective measures to prevent accidents.

However, if the recommendations of the investigation committee and specific structural measures are taken to prevent accidents, the rate of those accidents can be reduced to a large extent. But due to various reasons, accidents are happening for not taking these very necessary steps.

According to Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) research, bribes ranging from Tk 300 to Tk 250,000 are transacted to carry on the chemical business in old Dhaka violating the existing rules.


From TIB’s research, it can be seen that even though licenses for setting up chemical warehouses and factories have been stopped officially, licenses are being issued with the connivance of unscrupulous officials and using political influence.

In some cases, on the advice of unscrupulous officials of the City Corporation, the businessmen remove the word chemical from the name of their business identification and establishment.

The Department of Environment, Directorate of Explosives, Directorate of Fire Service and Civil Defense and some dishonest officials of Dhaka City Corporation are involved for providing no-objection certificate, license, clearance or renewal in the business of chemicals.

Who is responsible for setting up a factory without safety measures and the investigation reports in the Churihatta, Nimtali, Gulshan, Banani, Sitakund, Rupganj tragedy? Is there any follow up on these reports? The government should take strict action to ensure exemplary punishment against those involved in all irregularities and mismanagement, no matter how influential and powerful the group may be.

If this is not done, the guilty will get away with one incident after another and the line of dead bodies of innocent working people will get longer and longer. We expect appropriate and exemplary legal action to be taken against those involved in the tragic accidents.

Besides, appropriate compensation measures will be taken to the families of the victims. If the urgent instructions to remove the chemical warehouse from old Dhaka were issued and implemented, the nation would not have to see the repetition of a terrible tragedy in Balley Road like this.

During the fire in Nimtoli, the fire service personnel risked their lives but could not reduce the number of casualties. One of the reasons for this is the inability of fire service vehicles to enter through unpaved roads, lack of water supply and chemical warehouses. However, why has the Nimtoli or Chawkbazar chemical warehouse not yet been removed? The government cannot avoid the responsibility of the death and the burning of so many people.

After the fire incident in Dhaka Medical College Hospital’s Corona ICU Unit and the earlier fire accident at Suhrawardy Hospital, it is known that out of 423 hospitals in the capital, 318 hospitals are at risk of fire, including 105 with severe risk.

The authorities said that the condition of only 7 hospitals is fairly satisfactory. Most of the hospitals do not have adequate fire fighting systems. There is no provision of how to extinguish the fire, or how to evacuate the patients to another place. There are no steep stairs for easy evacuation of the vulnerable and critical patient. Many people are admitting patients in multi-storied buildings without a fire safety certificate.

Even though many hospitals are being built day by day in an unplanned way. So, in order to reduce risk and vulnerability, our prime duty needs to be focused on speedy evacuation and protective measures from major havoc. So risk and vulnerability are being mattered. Most disasters occur because an individual, society, or infrastructure lacks the capability to withstand the force of a hazard or deal with it effectively.

In Context of limited abilities of the government where actions should be taken to increase the community’s as well as institutional abilities to help withstand hazardous events, the grassroots experience, especially in the built environment, can form an effective knowledge-base to plan for the future. Public and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) interventions have the potential of being successful at preventing major crises. So far as the government has the foresight and the discipline to adopt effective strategies there are serious opportunities for reducing the adverse effects of crisis and hazards.

(Author: Columnist and researcher and former deputy director general, Bangladesh Ansar and VDP)