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Editorial: Fire safety

Afghanistan lags behind neighboring countries in many fields. Many study reports and surveys revealed government skill deficiency. The idea of the government failure is associated with unproductive policies and lack of basic infrastructure to steer the country in the right direction. The unproductive policies and lack of attention towards key problems have put the nation in a difficult situation. Fire safety is one of these issues. There is no denying that firefighting department in the center and provinces are outdated and lack the required skills. Fire eruption in markets and residential areas as well as on roads has caused huge financial and human losses.

Despite increase in the fire incidents the relevant authorities have utterly failed to devise a comprehensive mechanism to reduce such incidents. Fire safety is nowhere in sight, even on papers. The result is failure of the municipal and city administrations to prevent ignition of an uncontrolled fire or limit the effects of a fire. Although, an electrical short circuit is the most common cause of accidental fires in the country’s busy commercial and residential areas, but the concerned departments are not implementing the buildings safety rules. Hiring of key people on the basis of favoritism and rampant corruption in the governmental departments can be held responsible in this regard.

Today’s (Sunday) fire incident in the capital city, Kabul, is a clear reminder that the government has not paying any attention to implementation of safety rules. Although, the cause is not clear but the huge fire has wrecked havoc in a wood market in Quaye-Markaz area where the fire has become uncontrollable beast due to inefficiency of the firefighting department. It was not the first incident of such magnitude in the city. A month ago, fire incident has caused huge financial losses in Zadran Market, a well-known trade market. The market caught fire due to electrical short circuit. Two months ago the first fire incident took place in diplomatic area.

According to media reports, around four year ago a huge fire has reduced a market in the same area to ashes. Nearly 600 shops were destroyed. Each shopkeeper has suffered a loss of $50,000. Many shop owners were shocked by the loss.

To avoid such incidents in the future, the government must establish a team to ensure that safety rules are implemented by the owners of residential and commercial buildings. Those who are violating the rules must be fined and punished. Besides that the relevant authorities must reform and update the firefighting department. Modern equipment and training is imperative for improving the firefighting department.

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