Most shops and markets in Mitford, Babu Bazar and Chawkbazar areas that carry either chemical or plastic products are still without fire fighting equipment.
On the other hand, traders who have fire extinguishers at their shops do not know its operation due to a lack of proper training.
“Keeping a fire extinguisher at a 1,000-square-foot or less shop is mandatory, said Md Ohidul Islam, assistant director of warehouse and fire prevention of Fire Service and Civil Defence. “It's equally important to know how to operate those,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, some traders in the areas have started to purchase fire extinguishers or refill the old ones after the fire incident at Chawkbazar that left 69 people dead on February 20.
During a visit to Mitford and Chawkbazar areas yesterday, it was seen that most chemical and plastic goods selling shops did not have any fire extinguisher or other fire fighting equipment.
When asked, Obaidul Haque, owner of “Medi Chemical” in Mitford area, said they have a fire extinguisher but they kept it “elsewhere”.
One fire extinguisher was found at Makka Madina Tower, a market of plastic products, near its main gate. However, no one knew how to operate it.
“We don't know how to operate the extinguisher… it was set up by the market's owner. The security guards may know,” said Lokman Ali, a worker at the market.
This correspondent waited for a while, but no security guard was seen at the market in the afternoon.
The newspaper also met Dulal Das, an employee of Smart Fire Safety Limited, a private firm that sells fire fighting equipment, in the area.
“Earlier, we hardly got any order but the recent fire incident has changed the situation. I got orders for 100 fire extinguishers as well as refilling the old ones within the last two days,” he said.
Dulal collected around five extinguishers from shops in Mitford area. He said he will take those to Nababpur to refill.
Contacted, Md Shafiqul Islam Milon, joint secretary of Bangladesh Chemical and Perfumery Merchants' Association, said they have already given notice to all shops under the association to keep at least one extinguisher. “We hope they will comply within this month,” he said.
There are around 1,200 chemical and perfumery shops in Mitford, Babu Bazar and Armanitola areas, who are members of their association, he said.
On Monday, Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon said a taskforce would launch a month-long drive on Thursday to remove warehouses of “dangerous chemicals” from Old Dhaka, including Chawkbazar.