Fire safety rules remain stalled four years after formulation

They were put on hold after apparel leaders' objections

Monira Munni | Published: December 06, 2018 10:05:21 | Updated: December 07, 2018 12:56:44

The Fire Prevention and Protection Rules 2014 still remains stalled even four years into its formulation due mainly to bureaucratic tangle, officials said.

The government framed a set of rules in 2014 but put them on hold in January 2015 following objections from stakeholders, especially apparel leaders, they added.

They opposed provisions like occupancy certificate, licence fee, installation of fire extinguishers, fire fighting equipment like auto sprinklers, smoke and heat detectors and establishment of overhead tanks and underground water reservoirs.

The BGMEA recently sent further proposals requesting the ministry to amend some 13 provisions in the rules.

Home ministry on January 08, 2015, decided on delaying implementation as Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) objected to it.

After scrutinising reservations from ready-made garment sector leaders, the ministry sought to revise the rules which are yet to be done, ministry officials said.

"The rules are now in the process of revision," Ali Ahmed Khan, director general of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, told the FE.

He, however, did not go into details of the process.

Both BGMEA and BKMEA accused the government of formulating the rules without consulting industry people.

Some "inconsistencies" in the rules might stand in the way of further growth of the sector, they observed.

The rules asked the authorities to install one auto sprinkler head in each 100 square feet in a building that the BGMEA opposed, saying the requirement was more than necessary.

Building owners were asked to keep 20-feet-wide road surrounding their structures for easy movement of Fire Service vehicles, fire fighting and rescue operations.

According to the rules, a factory will have to have a 15-meter-wide main road on its front side.

The BGMEA argued that the provisions could only be applicable to the factories established in the planned industrial zone and for new factories.

Mohammad Hatem, vice-president of Exporters Association of Bangladesh, said provisions like a 20-feet-wide road around a factory building are illogical.

"These could not be met," he told the FE.

Later, the government made some changes in the draft fire rules addressing the reservations from garment factory owners, officials said.

Regarding gas suppression and foam-fixed installation system, the BGMEA said there is no need to install such system in the country's readymade garment factories.

The trade body also opposed the provision of having fire lift in existing and proposed factories and said new factories might install such fire lift, if needed.

The other proposals it put forward included amending sections 12 and 13 of the draft rules.

The BGMEA said installation of fire extinguishers on each floor is not logical and there was no need to establish automatic high velocity water spray or gas suppression system. Fire hydrant system is usually established near power substations in factories, it explained.

It said firefighting floor plan, height of building and width of road, fire lift, fire hydrant and refuge area provisions should not apply to existing buildings.


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