By Russ Jowell (email@example.com)
It has been a tragic four weeks for Pakistan’s apparel manufacturers. On September 11, fires devastated two seperate apparel manufaturing sites; a shoe factory in Lahore and a garment factory in the Baldia section of Karachi. And today (October 5), there’s word of another factory fire in Karachi. We know that the September 11 fires claimed hundreds of lives, and as of the writing of this post, today’s blaze in Karachi has injured at least two, including one firefighter.
There’s one common thread all of these incidents seem to have: man-made causes. While the investigation is still ongoing, the International Herald-Tribune reports that management at the Baldia factory ordered the factory gates closed after the fire broke out. In Lahore, the Associated Press reports the fire ignited when sparks from a generator struck chemicals stored near it in a garage. Compounding matters is the fact that this garage was reportedly the only way out of the facility. And today’s fire in Karachi was also reportedly caused by welding sparks.
In recent years, Bangladesh has also been hit hard by factory fires. Nearly 500 garment workers have perished in fires over the last 5 years, including 84 at a KTS factory where the emergency exit was reportedly illegally locked, and at least 27 were killed in a 2010 factory fire just outside Dhaka.
Fire safety is critically important for both workers and management. It is perhaps the biggest threat to life employees face, and yet in many cases, fires can be prevented with simple measures. WRAP has been working hard to spread awareness of fire dangers and to educate apparel makers about how fires can be prevented. Following the opening of WRAP’s office in Bangladesh in 2011, we moved quickly to develop a comprehensive Fire Safety Training course to be offered in Bangladesh. Launched in September of 2011, the course helps both factory workers and management understand not only how to respond to a fire, but how to prevent them from happening in the first place. The course has been taught over 12 times in Dhaka and Chittagong and has received much praise.
The course addresses several important topics, including local fire safety laws, simple ways to prevent fires, and how to create an evacuation plan. The course is very hands on and includes live demonstrations, case studies, and group exercises. In the words of one attendee,”It was nice and excellent training. We now understand how to prevent fire incidents in their primary stage.”
Administering the Bangladesh course has given us valuable expertise in fire safety training for apparel manufacturers, knowledge we hope to spread to other countries. WRAP is preparing to offer the course in Pakistan, where the recent tragedies underscore how important it is for factories to maintain adequate fire safety measures. We look forward to keeping you informed on the progress of this effort.
Posted on October 5th, 2012 by wrapadmin
Filed under: Uncategorized