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Fire Service sends notice only


Published : 27 Mar 2024 10:27 PM | Updated : 28 Mar 2024 04:58 PM
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The Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD) does nothing but send notice when a building, restaurant, shopping mall, or establishment is found to be a fire risky. 

Although there is a separate law for them, there is no penalty or legal action. So, even if a fire hazard or irregularity exists in a building, the FSCD does not have to do anything.

Analysing the recent fire incidents, it has been found that despite sending notices to those buildings, no action could be taken due to lack of capacity. As a result, the building owners neglect the matter and do not take fire safety seriously.

According to FSCD sources, they do not have any specific executive magistrate. As a result, they have to apply to the district office and the city corporation and ask for the executive magistrate. Because the Magistrate has to be with them to conduct any operation.

Despite sending repeated notices to various dangerous buildings, the building owners ignore them. 

Experts said that accidents would have been reduced if FSCD had the power to impose fines and take legal action. According to the FSCD sources, 2,512 buildings within Dhaka are categorized as ‘Most Risky.’ These buildings are in grave danger. Many have called them firebombs. The fire service sent notices to these buildings but could not take any action.

Among these buildings, there are 1,048 markets and shopping malls. The rest are hospitals, residential hotels, educational institutions, and media houses. 

Despite repeated notices to all these institutions, legal action is not being taken.

FSCD sources said the width of the fire fighting vehicle of the fire service is 8.4 feet, and the length is 35.8 feet. It expands up to 20 feet at the moment of emergency operation. 

But many roads in Dhaka are not wide enough, fire service vehicles cannot enter many places. Not having enough space for jambu cushions is hampering its use.

FSCD officials said that by inspecting different buildings, it can be seen that each building should have a water system reserved for emergency moments, but most buildings do not have that system. 

According to RAJUK rules, any building above six floors is 

considered a multi-storied building. As a result, it is mandatory to have two stairs there. However, most of the buildings do not comply with that order. Fire service water pressure can usually rise up to six stories.

Fire service officials said that after inspecting a building, a letter is sent to the concerned institutions stating that it is risky and very risky. Notices are also posted in front of some public markets or shopping malls. 

In addition, notice copies were given to Rajuk, City Corporation, and related institutions stating that the buildings are fire hazards. But they can’t take any action as there is no legal system. This is not working even with repeated notices. 

The Fire Prevention and Fighting Act of 2003 empowers the fire service to prosecute, fine, and search. However, they cannot implement the provisions of that law as they are suspended. Because of this, they have nothing to do except to give notice. 

It is known that illegal activities are carried out in these buildings in collaboration with the City Corporation, Rajuk, and government agencies despite the establishment being declared dangerous. 

Commercial activities and restaurant business are also going on in the approved residential buildings. 

Lt Col Mohammad Tajul Islam Chowdhury, Director (Operation and Maintenance) of FSCD, said they have no power beyond giving notice. For this, they request the institutions or organisations with enforcement powers to take action by providing a copy of the notice.

When asked about the fire service’s fine and legal action, Md Shahjahan Sikder, Deputy Assistant Director of Fire Service and Civil Defence (media cell), said, “Normally, we have to do nothing after serving notice. But sometimes, the mobile court is conducted if the notice does not work.” 

“We can impose fines, but not directly. In this case, we have to apply to the District Office or the City Corporation for an Executive Magistrate, and then a fine can be imposed,” he added.

He said, “Police can fine or arrest the criminal at any moment. But there is no such provision in our law. The Fire Prevention and Fighting Act, 2003, does not provide for fines or arrests or any ability to take legal action. If the law had the power to take measures, people would have been forced to ensure safety.”