Chitral lacks firefighting system

CHITRAL, June 9: Civil society organisations have demanded of the authorities to improve firefighting system in Chitral town as most of the buildings here are vulnerable to fire owing to use of deodar wood, which is highly combustible. The representatives of different civil society organisations complained that there was no emergency response system in case of eruption of fire in the city. The outbreak of a fire always caused huge losses in the city and exposed flaws in the fire fighting system of the municipal committee but no one tried to improve it, they added. Saeed Khan, a trader union activist, told this correspondent that the municipal committee had two fire engines but it had no trained staff conversant with fire code and volunteers to rush to the troubled spot immediately. Recalling an incident, he said that fire engine reached the spot at a distance of only two kilometres after two hours when fire reduced a house to ashes. It was found that the hose pipe had no pressure, he added. Recalling another incident, Mr Khan said that fire engine was not sent to extinguish fire when the administration block of the government commerce college caught fire in midnight last year. That building was also reduced to ashes, he said. Mehmud Alam, an executive officer of a NGO, said there was dire need of a comprehensive fire fighting system in Chitral with more fire extinguishing gadgets and engines supported by well-trained staff and volunteers. “The city has become congested after growth in population and it has further increased its vulnerability as fire in one building can pervade to the surroundings easily,” he said. Mr Alam said that there was need for imparting training to selected students of schools and colleges with defined module of knowledge about the fire code as it would produce a batch of volunteers to cope with the hazard. “It is a pity that there is no fire department in the municipal committee for quick response and management,” he added. The civil society members also expressed concern over the position and orientation of the newly constructed buildings that resulted in congestion leaving no space for the passage of fire engines and aid workers in case of fire outbreak. Jamil Ahmed, a worker of another NGO, said that the municipal committee, acting building control authority in the city, must ensure that there should be proper access to every newly constructed building in the city. Sources said that no inspection of the sensitive buildings in the city including petrol pumps was carried out by any authority to check the working condition of the fire extinguishing system.–Dawn]]>

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