Train up common people as volunteers
A modern Fire Brigade is not just a fire fighting team that jumps in to action only when there is a fire incident. It has more roles to play during different kinds of emergency such as building collapse, road or train accidents, airplane crash, earthquake, drowning of humans, sinking of vessels and so on. The integral part of any Fire Brigade is civil defence, which comprises civilian volunteers from the community who come forward during any emergency.
Bangladesh Fire Brigade department had only a few worn out first generation trucks with worn out hoses to spray water on roaring fire. A small tank on the back would mostly contain small amount of water. The department did not have special vehicles with capacity to fight chemical fire. And yet, these old vehicles tried to douse out fire and mostly did a good job if called in to action early on. From a Bangladesh Post report we find that 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 and the number is expected to reach around 600 within a short time.
However, the task of fighting fire is not without hazards and impediments. They face obstacles while approaching the site through the narrow and winding streets and lanes through a crowd of onlookers. The other problem is not finding water at the fire site after their containers run out of water. With the rapid urbanization of big cities like Dhaka and Chattogram, streets and lanes have become narrower, crowd has become bigger and water has become more and more scarce. Moreover, many godowns have been set up in the heart of the cities that store highly inflammable chemicals. Some years back, a fire incident originating from one such godown in old Dhaka took some lives and destroyed some buildings in the area. Good news is the government has ordered shifting of such godowns to some place away from the residential areas.
From the report in this daily we learn that the Fire Brigade of the country, especially in Dhaka, has obtained many latest vehicles equipped with modern devices to fight chemical fires and they can now reach up to ten to fifteen floors to extinguish fire. The well trained men can also rescue people trapped inside burning buildings. They also have a large team of volunteers to help rescue people during emergency. In this connection we may recall the commendable work they did during the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Savar some years back. It is encouraging to note that the department has also decided to provide ambulance services during emergency situations to save lives.
Like any other modern department, Bangladesh Fire Brigade officials now can use their own laptops and multimedia facilities, which are required while providing training on preparedness in rural schools.