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The authorities concerned cannot avoid the responsibility of the fire accident

The authorities concerned cannot avoid the responsibility of the fire accident

Md. Zillur Rahaman

Last Thursday night on 29th February 2024, already 46 people were died and 11 people were seriously injured in the Bailey Road multi-storey building fire accident. Besides, 75 people were rescued alive in the said incident. According to the concerned rescue team and doctors, most of the 46 people who died had no burn marks on their bodies. Even a little is not enough to cause death. In this case, most of the deaths are due to 'carbon monoxide poisoning', which in simple terms can be called toxic black smoke. Carbon monoxide is produced when there is a lack of oxygen after a fire. The news of this development crossed the borders of the country and the western media such as BBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Guardian, Reuters, AFP, AP and Al-Jazeera have published with due importance.

In fact none of these are mere accidental deaths, they are murders. Now there will be an investigation committee, only that will be known whose negligence, but no remedy will be found. Now, the Rajdhadi Unnayan Kartipakkha (RAJUK- Capital Development Authority) says the building had no permission to set up a restaurant or merchandise outlet.

The fire service says the building did not have any fire safety measures. Three times warning letters were given, but no action was taken for some unknown reason. Eight restaurants operated in the building for years, despite the fire hazard and lack of permits. The concerned government agencies knew that there was a fire risk in the building. They could not or did not take any action for unknown reason. The building authorities did not touch the matter. After the death of people, the picture of these negligence came out in the limelight.

In the news, a student called his father and said, 'Dad, fire! Save us...' That was the last word. Later, the father called the girl's cell phone hundreds of times. But no one picked up the phone. Going to the Dhaka Medical Morgue, the father shouted, "I could not save you... Mago (mother)...." Two students studying in BUET were victims of this tragic fire. Either their fathers, mothers or many like them are weeping bitterly for the loss of their loved ones, making the sky heavy. They have no words to comfort anyone. They are frozen in stone of grief and it is difficult to calm the mind even if it is a natural death. In that case, so many freshmen falling into the storm prematurely is not acceptable at all.

Fires have many causes. Major causes of fire include inadequate fire fighting system, unplanned building construction and lack of knowledge about emergency evacuation, unauthorized storage of flammable and explosive materials. Besides, if the fire is not completely extinguished after cooking in the city and village, the fire may fly in the wind and touch the fence of the house; Ashes may fly into the air and cause fires; If chalk is left to dry on the stove, the chalk may catch fire, and that fire may burn down the house; Fire can occur from cigarette, bidi and hookah fire- proven in various investigations.

Initially, gas cylinder explosions are said to be the reason for the advance of Bailey Road. The gas cylinder on the stairs may have caught many's eye due to the fire on Bailey Road. However, gas cylinders are being sold everywhere without permission in the alleys and even the traffic roads of Bangladesh. As a result, common people are constantly under the threat of accidents during movement. Those who sell gas cylinders do not have the slightest knowledge of what to do in case of a small gas leakage. Yet they are selling at spontaneously, as if no one is watching or the authorities are pretending not to see. Government policy, strict monitoring and its enforcement are necessary to prevent such terrible accidents immediately. Otherwise such fatal accidents will continue to happen.

According to the Fire Service, the biggest fire incident in the last 10 years happened in 2010, in Nimtoli, Old Dhaka. Then almost 124 people were died. The following year, 111 people lost their lives in a fire at Tazreen Fashions in Savar's Ashulia and in 2016, 41 people died in a fire at Tampako foils factory in Tongi. According to the fire service data, about 14,682 fire incidents occurred across the country in 2010, about 271 people were died and 794 people were injured. In 2011, about 15,815 accidents died 365 people and injured 1,479 people. On December 14, 2010, i.e., Sports Wire in Ashulia died 29 people. Out of 19,642 fires in 2018, about 7,825 fires occurred due to electrical disturbances. Almost 3,449 fires started from stove fires, and 3,108 from cigarette fires. A fire broke out in the early morning of April 4, 2023 in Bangabazar Complex and on that day four other markets were damaged in the fire along with Bangabazar Complex. On the other hand, on April 15, 2023, about 226 shops were burnt down in a fire in Dhaka New Super Market. The market owner association says that the fire caused a loss of Tk. 350 crore.

In June 2010, about 124 people were died in a chemical factory fire in Nimtali. On February 20, 2019, a terrible fire broke out at Waheed Mansion in Churidhatta, Chawkbazar of the capital. As there was a chemical godown, the fire became reckless. In this fire, 72 people were died and many were injured. Also, minor fires occur frequently in chemical godowns. Ever since the Nimtali incident, there has been talk of moving the chemical godown of old Dhaka to the vicinity of Dhaka, but it has not been implemented till date.

At one time there were reports of many fires in jute and cotton warehouses. Now there is more fire in the market, trade goods and garments, that too mainly in and around the capital. Even in supermarkets that claim to be modern and digital, there have been multiple incidents of fire. Later investigations revealed that even many supposedly modern markets had inadequate fire-fighting systems, including smoke detectors; Not even water. Again, there were no trained rescuers. The same applies to Tazreen Garments, which are popular in the country and abroad. Again horrors like the Nimtali tragedy are examples before us.

Apart from this, there are incidents of fire in different slums of Dhaka. Chawkbazar also had almost no fire fighting system with water reserve. The same applies to multi-storied houses and public and private offices. In fact, no concept of emergency and system has been developed to deal with fire fighting or other accidents including construction of buildings. No one has any training in this matter. That's why there is nothing to do but to see the loss of life and property in the event of fire. It seems necessary to improve this situation.

But when a fire breaks out in a populated area or an industrial factory, the horror of the fire shakes us, and the authorities are also shaken. In recent years, the terrible fire of Churihatta in Dhaka, Nimtali, Bhashantech in Mirpur, DNCC raw market and super market in Gulshan-2, Khilgaon raw market, fire in City Park building in Mirpur, especially FR Tower in Banani have shaken the whole nation. Among these accidents, 124 people died in Nimtali fire alone, 72 people died in Churidhatta fire and 28 people died in Banani's FR Tower.

However, no matter how the fire started, actually these are not natural deaths, it is like a murder, death of a dream, which cannot be desired and accepted in any way. One fire, the story of so many people being stoned by burning thousands of dreams. It can be said that fewer mourning stones are more mourning stones. If the culprits were identified and strict punishment was ensured against them, such fires or silent killings would not have happened. Even if the fire kills, others are alert and take necessary measures to prevent the fire.

As per rules inquiry committee is formed after every fire, submits report to the government, but the inquiry report never sees the light of day. No action is taken against anyone. The influential remain out of touch. Everything melts into the air due to an invisible force, as if no one is responsible. Several major fire accidents have occurred in Dhaka in the last few years including Bangabazar, Newmarket. Every time there is a fire, the government is shaken. It is assured that action will be taken against the culprits. But there is not much change in the scenario. The authorities concerned cannot in any way escape responsibility in the case of the Bailey Road fire, as there was considerable negligence in the duty of the supervisory authority. We don't want to see the procession of death in this kind of fire, and we want exemplary peace of the guilty so that no dream should die prematurely.

The writer is a Banker & Columnist

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