With an alarming increase in the number of fire incidents in the country, the preparedness of the fire department as well as the availability of a desired number of fire extinguishing vans was in question even a couple of years back.
According to sources, the department is now capable of managing any big fire incident as it is now enriched with modern equipment.
“Earlier, the state-run organisation failed to extinguish fires in such high-rise buildings as Tazrin Garments as it had no equipment for extinguishing those fires. But now the scenario has changed,” according to a source linked to fire control services.
The fire brigade team is not only well-equipped now but has also been trying to be one of the model institutions in the subcontinent, claimed the department officials.
Dhaka city is now home to many multi-storied buildings, but in case any big fire incident takes place, it will not be wise to rely on the city’s fire brigade team.
“There were only 193 fire stations in the country before the Awami league-led government came to power in 2009. Now there are 350 fire stations spread across the country. The number will climb to around 600 within a couple of months,” said Lt Col S M Julfikar Rahman, director (training, planning and development), while talking to Bangladesh Post on Tuesday.
“Though we have taken various initiatives for safety and security in the RMG sector, but we are still facing lots of challenges. Major challenges are delayed information about the fire, lack of water sources and adequate special equipment,” he added.
“We are better equipped than before. Governmental organisations and forces are holding regular coordination meetings. Besides we are preparing volunteers to provide invaluable services and help save lives,” he mentioned.

According to sources, the department has saved properties worth over Tk 5,210 crore, saved lives of 29,717 people in 17,797 road and waterway incidents and recovered 4,852 dead bodies in the last three years.

The department has also decided to provide ambulance services during incidents as part of its development programme, added the sources.

Some initiatives have been taken to increase capacity for emergency response after an earthquake. These include developing volunteer teams and awareness programmes for the public.

As part of our pre-disaster preparedness, we have awareness building programmes, said officials. The government has provided us with laptops and multimedia facilities which we use while providing training on preparedness in rural schools.

The government has purchased a good quantity of equipment for emergency earthquake responses. Besides, several projects have been undertaken in order to strengthen Fire Service and Civil Defence with the assistance of the World Bank and JICA, official sources said.

Zahid Hossain Biplob