RAWALPINDI, May 29: In a routine exercise after fire incidents, the City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) on Wednesday directed the Town Municipal Administrations, civil defence and Rescue 1122 to check for fire safety equipments in all high-rise buildings of the district.
The directions came in the wake of the fire incident at Lahore Development Authority (LDA) plaza (Lahore) on May 9 which claimed five lives, but the civic body took 18 days to call the meeting.
“The CDGR officials were busy in election duties, and the DCO (District Coordination Officer) was busy in meetings with traders who were protesting over the massive electricity loadshedding. Therefore, the meeting which was supposed to be held on May 11 to inspect fire safety measures was delayed by two weeks,” said District Officer Emergency Abdur Rehman.
He said the TMA and Rescue 1122 would start a survey of high-rise buildings and ensure fire safety measures to avoid any untoward accidents, adding that some buildings on Benazir Bhutto Road and other commercial areas were in a dire need for fire safety equipments.
However, apart from the high-rise buildings, illegal factories dealing with chemicals also pose a serious hazard to residents in the area as they too lack firefighting measures.
In December last year, the CDGR had conducted a survey and had found safety equipment absent from 187 factories. These factories were established near residential areas, which under the Local Government Ordinance 2001 was illegal.
Many of these were located in thickly-populated areas such as Raja Bazaar, Khayaban-i-Sir Syed, Bangash Colony, Dhoke Ratta, College Road, Sadiqabad, Pirwadhai and Asghar Mall, and could result in major accidents.
The small-scale factories manufacture and prepare goods using inflammable chemicals, and either lack a firefighting system or have a faulty one. However, the CDGR and RTMA failed to shut them down due to political reasons, but had asked the 187 factories to adopt fire safety measures in January 2013.
The CDGR once again held a meeting on Wednesday to conduct a fresh survey to find those who had failed to adopt the safety measures.
During the meeting, DCO Rashid Mehmood Langrial asked the relevant authorities to inspect all high-rise buildings and make individual evacuation plans for every building.
He said the roof of every building should be cleared of cell phone towers and billboards so that rescue efforts could be carried out effectively in case of a fire. Furthermore, the DCO said building codes regarding emergency exits would be strictly implemented in under-construction buildings.
Rescue 1122 Director Dr Rizwan also briefed the meeting about the standard evacuation emergency plans for high-rise buildings and the installation of fire alarms.