‘Several units functioning in sheds and godowns’

The fire tragedy in a garment factory near Dhaka in Bangladesh, which claimed at least 109 lives, should serve as an “eye-opener” to the garment factories in the State, according to a senior official of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

“Several garment factories in the State function from sheds, godowns and ground plus first floor structures, where cloth and other materials, which are combustible and inflammable, are stored. Proper fire protection steps should be in place,” the official told The Hindu.

Though owners of garment factories housed in high-rise buildings approach the Fire and Emergency Services Department for having fire safety norms in place, the garment units housed in smaller places do not seek any guidance. “If they come to us, we will provide them with whatever guidance that is necessary,” said the official, who did not wish to be named.

However, the official made it clear that the owners of the garment factories should themselves take up the responsibility to ensure that a proper fire safety system is in place in their units.

Apart from fire safety system, the owners should also ensure that proper and safe working atmosphere and sanitation is provided to the workers.

Staff shortage

Meanwhile, Director of Fire and Emergency Services Department B.G. Chengappa said that the owners of the garment factories should take up the responsibility of fire safety in their units.

The department is facing a shortage of staff, he said.

To a question, he said that the fire safety audit of high-rise buildings across the State was continuing.

The deadline for completing the audit, which was taken up following a directive from the High Court of Karnataka, has been extended to the end of December 2013 from the original date of April 2012, he said.

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