Inadequate fire safety put lives at risk

KARACHI: Fire season has started and Karachi fire brigade does not seem to be equipped to cope with the possible threats as fire incidents have started taking place more frequently in factories, godowns and cottages putting lives and properties at stake.

Sources told that Karachi was short of 90 percent fire stations. There were only 20 fire stations in whole the city, while according to international rule there should be one fire station per 0.1 million’s population, hence Karachi should have at least 200 fire stations.

“Karachi fire stations possess no more than three snorkels with highest range to reach 7-storey building,” they told.

The condition of available fire tenders was also pathetic as fire department was short of funds and it could not fully maintain the vehicles, therefore, sometimes parts from old non-functioning vehicles were dislocated to place it in the running ones. Fire tenders from other stations were called for rescue when an incident happened, said sources.

“Fire tenders have to run between the incident and fire station for refilling due to non-availability of bowsers these days as contracts of bowsers’ drivers have not been renewed God knows why,” said the sources.

Chief Fire Officer Ahteshamuddin put blame on companies for not following fire safety rules while running their businesses.

“You would not find fire extinguishers in most of the companies and not enough water either for emergency,” he said.

He said that during cold and dry weather big and small fire incidents occur every now and then because in this season, specially, fire spreads fast and just a spark would be enough to engulf a warehouse.

One could think that what would happen if an uncontrollable third degree fire flares up somewhere, even a second degree fire in the present situation could wreak havoc as fire department does not have sufficient water storage as well.

Loss of money might be replaceable but loss of life could not be. In September 2012, 258 people had died in a fire incident in a garment factory of Karachi.

According to Wikipedia: “Pakistan has one of the largest labour and manpower resources in the world, due to its large population. According to data produced by the CIA World Factbook, the total number of Pakistan’s labour is 58.4 million, making it the 10th largest country in terms of available human workforce. About 20.1% of labour force is involved in industry”.

Here the question arises whether these workers have right to work in a safe environment or not. If yes and indeed yes then companies and government should take proper steps to provide them safety.

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