These frequent fires

FREQUENT fires one after another in the country’s most populous
city of Karachi has once again exposed not only lack of safety standards in big plazas and buildings but also inadequacies of relevant departments to cope with any natural or man-made disaster in a timely manner. Monday saw eruption of two fires in the provincial capital. The first one broke out in the four-star Regent Hotel which claimed about a dozen lives and injured scores of others while the second building that was engulfed by the blaze was that of income tax.
The fire that broke out in the hotel is reported to be not intense in nature but it caused immense damage not only to the building but also inflicted major casualties as there were no fire alarms or emergency exits in the hotel and entrapped people used sheets to climb down the building. Such safety issues are common throughout Pakistan, where buildings lack emergency equipment like alarms and sprinklers, and municipal rules are rarely enforced. But Karachi is often in the news about deadly fires claiming scores of lives. Some of these are attributed as accidents while others as act of sabotage. The people still remember the Baldia factory fire, which according to JIT report was a clear act of sabotage/terrorism. Firstly whatever the cause of fire either accident or sabotage, those involved directly or indirectly should be awarded exemplary punishment as it will help put a lid to these frequent fires. In the case of hotel fire, the owners should be penalised and also sent behind the bars for not following the standard safety rules, which actually resulted in the death of innocent people due to suffocation. Apart from ensuring international safety standard rules in buildings, there is also need to fully equip fire-fighting department with modern equipment and vehicles so that these fires could be extinguished in minimum possible time. Heavy responsibility in this regard lies with the new Mayor to do work towards this end as well as purging the metropolis of huge heaps of garbage, which has become a black spot on the face of the city.

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