Fire at Keamari Oil Depot and Regent plaza
By Mr. A.H Sheikh, Leading firefighting expert & Chairman Firetech Group
Increasing Fire incidents is an alarming situation for the concerned authorities to ensure implementation of available standard and code to avoid the loss of Life and property. Three major incidents one after another in line has left so many question in minds of people
Oil storage tank form area – Karachi, 2 dead
Hotel Regent Plaza – Karachi. 12 dead and over110 injured
Baldia Town Garment factory. Over 257 dead
These repeated fire accidents showing the lack of interest of authorities to enforce the fire prevention laws to avoid fire accident. It is very unfortunate that when the fire occur all govt. Fire Brigades and Rescue 1122 jump over the fire scene and start showering water to kill the fire weather it is right or wrong for the type of fire. The latest fire in Kemari Oil Terminal Karachi lasting about 34 hours and still was under threat of re-igniting. The owner of oil depot was unable to confirm that firefighting system was installed or not.
The other incident of Hotel Building Fire in Karachi having no fire alarm system was in place / not maintained and was out of order. At least 12 people were killed and 75 others injured when a huge fire erupted at Karachi’s Regent Plaza hotel. Most of the country’s buildings don’t meet safety standards to avoid such mishaps. Chief Fire Officer told that although the blaze was not very intense and was contained “quite early”, the smoke kept circulating inside because the air conditioning system stayed on.
We the people of Pakistan have no values of life. As per law few hundred rupees dominate the country’s law implementing agencies. The government will appoint an inquiry board to find out the cause of the Fire which has already assumed that the Fire started from the kitchen. It’s a truth that Pakistan hotel industry is very much strong to collect the per day charges in quite heavy amounts but in return the basics and protection products next to nothing is available in these hotels. Every industry have fixed rules & regulations to be followed during the operation of facility. I still believe and can name number of Five Star, Four Star hotels from Peshawar to Karachi either are not protected and if you see something installed in this sense, match lowest standards with application of cheaper components. The basic life threaten standards has been laid in their original spirit and internationally applied by the local govt. and civic authorities to make inspections and force to the building management to implement this Fire Protection.
We have lost number of lives due to the reason of inadequate Fire Fighting, Fire Alarm & Safety components available in this type of commercial buildings. It’s obvious to bear this loss of life and property unless otherwise intentional specs are not accomplished. Pakistan is 70 years old and from day one everybody put finger to others and try to escape their own responsibilities. I personally have witnessed during my travel that Pakistan Hotel Industry have next to nothing application of Life Saving Equipment. We don’t understand that the Fire authorities who inspect these buildings how come convinced and issue a letter to operate this un-protected facility. It has been in practice to keep some kind of Fire Extinguishers and feel safe but, in fact when this kind of Fire incidents happens there is no escape to save the life as per some newspapers have clearly mentioned that Hotel Building was total unsafe.
Recently govt. of Pakistan has issued commercial licenses for the distribution of Benzene all over the country. The license holder is bounded to develop a Supply & Chain Services by establishing Oil Storage Tanks near by the major cities to ensure the smooth supply of fuel for citizens of Pakistan. It’s personally observed that all the operating companies are trying to minimize the application of Fire Fighting Systems at this kind of Oil Depot. Some of those companies are totally unaware of the basics of Fire Fighting equipment application to install and operate this oil storage area. We had participated in number of facilities and advised how to protect this kind of dangerous facilities but we failed to convince the owners of these oil depots with proper Fire Fighting System and components on site. While writing this I have looked into broad way thinking how these oil facilities will get operating certificate from OGRA. This is also worth mentioning that this lobby of rich political or businessmen community will get to operate these facilities and will enjoy their status quo by pushing into danger the life of staff working at these facilities.
It does require investigating thoroughly that how they were able to get operations without implementing the proper Fire & Safety rules as per standards and specs.
It’s one of segment of hazardous locations right or left around the people and the irrecoverable property and life loss. It’s strictly advised to the govt. and its related authorities who are responsible to make this happen and don’t allow to get these facilities in operation. Is there any govt. authority having force not to allow this type of hazardous installation to get into operation without implementing the Fire & Safety procedures.
We strongly urge OGRA and other related agencies to ensure the proper implementation of Fire & Safety Gadget which can be guaranteed for their operation minimum for 5 Years. Otherwise govt. and the owners will keep naming each other for the failure not to protecting the facility and how long we will play saying afterward that this catastrophe is not my responsibility and until when will keep playing that this incident is by (min Allah) and save own back by losing all the responsibility. As usually say that this nation and the govt. of Islamic Republic of Pakistan have to adopt safe and secure practices.
There is a long way to go to protect ourselves.