The appalling fire in Bangladesh at the weekend, in which over one hundred people, mainly women, were killed, brings the total to over 500 people who have died in similar garment factory fires in the country since 2006, according to a rights group. This weekend’s fire followed another garment factory fire in Pakistan in September, which killed 289 people.
While the cause of the Bangladesh fire has yet to be established, an electrical fault is suspected and, although the stricken factory had a certificate of compliance from WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production), survivors tell of blocked exits and of having to break windows to escape.
In May 2010, Wrightstyle published an article drawing attention to the poor level of fire safety in many Bangladeshi garment factories, describing a number of other similar fires in which escape routes were inadequate.
Wrightstyle, which supplies steel glazing systems internationally, also cited comments from a professor of architecture at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, who said that the various tragedies had happened because proper architectural practices had not been followed – in particular, compartmentation, where the fire can be contained.
“As a company specializing in fire safety, we were deeply saddened by this latest tragedy in Bangladesh. We believe that the Western customers of all garment factories should look again at the fire safety of workers producing goods on their behalf, and that governments and relevant national and international organisations should also reexamine health and safety compliance, auditing and certification procedures,” said Tim Kempster, managing director, Wrightstyle.