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Time for decisive action to ensure fire safety

Our status quo with regard to fires is simply not acceptable

GreenWatch Desk Op-Ed 2024-05-18, 3:45pm


Yet another fire, this time in Gazipur on Thursday that left over 50 tin-roof houses in ashes, once again brings to attention the urgent need to address the issue of not just our chronic lack of fire safety measures, but also substandard housing and infrastructure that exacerbates these fires.

Fires have become so commonplace in Bangladesh that we have started treating them with apathy and disregard. This is a tragic event, and no nation in the world should accept fires ravaging communities and destroying lives and property as a norm.
Bangladesh's rapid urbanization and population density have led to more and more informal settlements and slums, forcing people to live in precarious conditions, often in flimsy, tin-roof structures that are, as expected, highly susceptible to fires. These dwellings lack proper ventilation, fire-resistant materials, and adequate escape routes, making them little more than tinderboxes, reports DT.
It is imperative thus that the authorities concerned continue to prioritize the development of affordable and safe housing options for the urban poor. Beyond the fact that every human being should have safe shelter, it will ensure that no one is forced to live in such hazardous conditions.
Alongside improving housing standards, we cannot relax when it comes to bolstering fire safety measures, especially in these densely populated areas. Community-based fire safety education programs will go a long way to raise awareness and equip residents with the knowledge and skills to not only prevent fires but, more crucially, respond efficiently to fire emergencies.
Our status quo with regard to fires is simply not acceptable. It is time for decisive action to ensure that no more lives are lost and no more families are rendered homeless due to preventable fires.