Fire Technology

, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 793–814 | Cite as

Fire Safety in the Readymade Garment Sector in Bangladesh: Structural Inadequacy Versus Management Deficiency

Article

Abstract

The readymade garment (RMG) industry plays a vital role in the socio-economic development of Bangladesh, yet the sector suffers from poor fire safety records. Given the lack of fire risk assessment in the industry, this paper develops a Fire Risk Index (FRI) for individual RMG factories and surveys 60 such factories to develop an understanding of the fire safety conditions in the sector. The paper differentiates the risk factors into structural (hard) and management related (soft) parameters and develops FRIs for the structural factors. The FRI for structural parameters is then compared with the FRI for management factors, published earlier. While an overall mean FRI of 2.12 on a 4 point scale indicates that fire safety condition is quite poor, the FRI for soft parameters (1.80) are even lower than the FRI for hard parameters (2.58), indicating the critical importance of the soft parameters in fire safety assessment of the RMG factories. Within the hard parameters, there appears to be more reliance on firefighting and means for escape than on precautionary measures to contain the fire, which could explain the higher frequency of fire occurrences in the industry. FRI for both hard and soft parameters appear to follow a U shaped relationship with factory size, possibly indicating a Kuznet’s effect in fire safety in the garment sector. The poor FRI for hard factors indicates large deviations from safety requirements set in this work and asks for a stricter monitoring and enforcement regime. Improving the performance in the soft parameters, however, would require changes in the safety culture and practices.

Keywords

Risk assessment Fire risk index Fire safety Garment factories Developing countries 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the garment factory owners and their management bodies for their co-operation to visit their factories. We also thank the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense Authority officials, their field inspectors and the experts for their continuous support.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Integrated Energy ResearchUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringMilitary Institute of Science and TechnologyDhakaBangladesh

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