Dhaka’s “Time Bombs”: Architect Warns of Fire Dangers in These Restaurant-Filled Buildings

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By Bangladesh Reports

“This isn’t just a tragedy, it’s a string of negligent homicides,” declared Architect Iqbal Habib as he surveyed the charred remains of the Green Cozy Cottage building on Bailey Road. Shaken by the staggering death toll, he expressed grave fears that Dhaka is riddled with similar “time bombs” within its commercial buildings.  Restaurants are established on multiple floors with little to no regard for fire safety, a situation Habib likened to a city filled with ticking bombs, leaving everyone anxiously waiting for the next detonation.

Dhaka's "Time Bombs": Architect  Warns of Fire Dangers in These Restaurant-Filled Buildings

Tragedy Ignites Concerns: 46 Killed in Dhaka Fire as Building Design Faces Scrutiny

Last Thursday night, a horrific fire tore through a seven-story building on Bailey Road in Dhaka, claiming the lives of 46 people. 12 people are under treatment in critical condition. There were restaurants on all the floors of the seven-story building. Fire service officials said that the gas cylinder kept in these restaurants exploded and the fire spread.

Architect Iqbal Habib observed numerous building code violations and said that the construction and design of the building should be done according to the activities to be carried out. These violations reportedly include inadequate fire escape routes, malfunctioning fire suppression systems, and improper ventilation systems. There is no opportunity to open a restaurant in a commercial or residential building if you wish. Explaining this, he said, the type of kitchen required for a restaurant is not available in a building designed for general commercial activities. Restaurant kitchens require special arrangements.

Apart from this building in Dhaka, restaurants have been built on different floors of many multi-storied buildings in different places including Banani, Dhanmondi. There are questions about the fire safety of those buildings.

Beyond Dhaka: Are Multi-Story Restaurants a Nationwide Fire Hazard?

In this context, Iqbal Habib said, “They are sitting like a time bomb. As if we are waiting, when will another such incident happen again. Architect Iqbal Habib had a question, who is responsible for the death of so many people in the fire in the building on Bailey Road? In response, he said, six organizations are directly involved with various stages from the construction of a building to its operation. There are the Capital Development Authority (RAJUK), the City Corporation, the Department of Environment and even the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Commerce. Because, such buildings should be built and their activities run with the approval of these service organizations and authorities.

Architect Iqbal Habib spoke to reporters after visiting the fire-damaged buildings on Bailey Road in the capital. This is Friday morning

Architect Iqbal Habib spoke to reporters after visiting the fire-damaged buildings on Bailey Road in the capital.

Architect’s Analysis: Building Design Blamed for Rapid Fire Spread

Iqbal Habib said that he visited the entire building damaged by fire. He found violations of building regulations in every aspect including stairs, fire fighting system, building entry and exit and lighting and ventilation system.

Iqbal Habib said, according to the first condition of fire safety, there is no opportunity to keep cylinders in the open. And such cylinders cannot be kept in the emergency exit (fire escape) way of the building. However, the emergency exit of the building has been equipped with gas cylinders used for cooking. He said Allah’s infinite mercy that they did not blast (cylinder explosion). If for some reason there had been a cylinder detonation, the fire would have spread to the entire region.

Architect Iqbal Habib also criticized the way the building has been constructed surrounded by glass. Arguing in favor of his opinion, he said that Bangladesh is such a country that one can live without air conditioning (AC) for eight months in a year. There is no justification for building such a glass-enclosed building. There is no ventilation system in such buildings. These require more electricity due to higher AC usage.

Securing Dhaka’s Buildings in 3-6 Months?

Iqbal Habib thinks taking the initiative to secure Dhaka’s buildings is important. He said that after the collapse of Rana Plaza in Savar, Bangladesh has transformed into the highest green industry country in just two and a half years due to the pressure of foreign garment buyers (buyers) and the efforts of the government. He believes that it will be possible to secure the buildings in just three to six months through the formation of the task force.

But the road to a safer Dhaka stretches beyond immediate fixes. Urban development plans need to prioritize public safety from the very beginning, weaving fire safety considerations into every stage of construction and design. From initial planning to final inspections, safety shouldn’t be an afterthought, but a cornerstone of every building’s foundation. Read More important news, Hear the heartbeat of your nation.

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