The Fire Service and Civil Defence on the final day of its inspection drive found 11 of the 69 visited garment factories without sufficient safety mechanisms to fight blazes.
The inspection teams visited factories in Savar area yesterday, and classified 24 in the 'A' or good category, 34 in the 'B' or acceptable category and 11 in the 'C' or poor category.
On Thursday and Saturday, some 163 of Ashulia's 574 garment factories were inspected, and 53 were put in the 'C' category -- due to lack of fire safety licences, adequate fire extinguishers, hose pipes, water reservoirs and trained workers.
“The scenario is a wake-up call for the factory owners, but they hardly showed any interest towards our suggestions,” M Abdus Salam, director of Fire Service and Civil Defence, said as he wrapped up yesterday's inspection.
“The factories without fire licences and inadequate fire safety measures will be shut down after one month if they fail to address these issues.”
Salam said mobile courts would be set up to conduct random inspections at factories. Upon receiving instructions from the government the next of inspections will start.
“But regular inspections by fire service stations will continue,” Salam said, adding that one station usually visits four factories a month -- which he deems to be insufficient.
One of the factories visited by the inspection teams yesterday was that of Lam Mim Associates, which did not have a fire safety licence. When quizzed, Abul Kalam Azad, the factory's manager said: “We will collect it soon.”
The team suggested the factory conducts regular fire drills for its workers, along with installations of water reservoirs, fire hydrant and hit detection systems and longer hose pipes.
Most of the workers in the factories were found to have no proper knowledge of fire safety, said Khandoker Shamsuzzoha, another director of Fire Service and Civil Defence.
“Our inspection teams found that factories even in the A and B categories did not hold regular fire drills,” he said, adding that funding is not an issue for the factory owners.
Another factory inspected yesterday, by a team led by Salam, was of AKM Knit Wear Limited's, which was found to be lacking in: adequate emergency exits, enough free space in the roof and functioning hose pipes.
The team also found ample fire risks at the factory's warehouse because of electrical short-circuits, which are prohibited by the law. “We will ensure all proper safety measures for the workers,” said Syed Md Ferdous, assistant general manager of AKM Knit Wear Ltd.
He instantly asked an electrician to create an alternative power source for the warehouse.