Fire incidents kill 16,500, incur Rs400b loss annually

ISLAMABAD - The fire incidents kill 16,500 people and leave 164,000 injured or disabled every year across the country but the government is yet to adopt a National Fire Safety Policy to control the situation.
According to a policy draft, the fire incidents or accidents cause property losses and insurance claims worth Rs 400 billion. The metropolises, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi have been witnessing fire incidents frequently but the basic factors mostly remain a secret or usually named as short-circuiting.
The country witnessed the worst fire incident in Karachi recently that claimed around 300 lives. The Federal Capital is also no exception as it had also experienced inferno incidents at Marriott Hotel, UBL Building and commercial plazas. Talking to APP, Senior Marine Captain Suleman Mahtab, who is also national expert on Pakistan National Fire Safety Policy and Emergency Response, said the fire policy would help reduce the volume of losses to Rs 200 billion with two years of its implementation.
He said that the policy proposes a Judicial Commission of permanent nature and status to openly, fairly and honestly investigate this incident and all other emergency incidents, involving loss of life and property. “There exists no Fire and Safety Act in Pakistan. Neither, there is any clear policy or guidelines to avoid, prepare for or effectively avoid and respond to such emergencies, which often lead to total chaos, mismanagement and lack of coordination when struck by an incident or emergency,” Mahtab said.
He said that after hectic efforts of ten months, the National Advisory Group on Fire and Safety Policy comprising 26 experts submitted the unanimous draft of the policy to NDMA in 2010. The draft was also vetted by the then Deputy Attorney General of Pakistan. The draft, through proposed practicable guidelines, had almost guaranteed solutions to the existing problems in Pakistan’s emergency preparation but it is yet awaiting approval from the relevant quarters.
He urged the government to approve and implement the unanimous draft of the National Fire and Safety Policy to avoid further losses of lives and properties.

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