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

  • Zia Wadud
  • Fuad Yasin Huda


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.


Risk assessment Fire risk index Fire safety Garment factories Developing countries 



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.


  1. 1.
    BGMEA (2015a) (online) Factory growth in Bangladesh. Retrieved November 2014
  2. 2.
    BGMEA (2015c) (online) Total product export. Retrieved November 2014
  3. 3.
    Ahmed JU, Hossain T (2009) Industrial safety in the readymade garment sector: a developing country perspective. Sri Lankan J Manag 14(1):1–13Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    BGMEA (2015b) (online) Number of employment in garment. Retrieved November 2014
  5. 5.
    Bhattacharya D, Rahman M (2000) Experience with implementation of WTO-ATC and implications for Bangladesh. Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Working Paper Series, Paper-7Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    BBC (2013) (online) Bangladesh building collapse death toll over 800. Retrieved September 2015
  7. 7.
    Wadud Z, Huda FY, Ahmed NU (2014) Assessment of fire risk in the readymade garment industry. Fire Technol 50:1127–1145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Reuters (2012) (online) Fires engulf Pakistan factories killing 314 workers. Retrieved September 2015
  9. 9.
    Daily Mail (2015) (online) Fire kills 72 people at Manila shoe factory where workers were trapped on second floor by iron grilles placed over windows. Retrieved September 2015
  10. 10.
    BFSCDA (no date) Fire prevention checklist for garment factory. Unpublished.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Watts JM Jr, Hall JR Jr (2002) Introduction to fire risk analysis. In DiNenno PJ (ed) SFPE handbook of fire protection engineering, 3rd edn. National Fire Protection Association, QuincyGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Lo SM (1999) A fire safety assessment system for existing buildings. Fire Technol 35:131–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hultquist H, Karlsson B (2000) Evaluation of a fire risk index method for multi-storey apartment buildings, Report 3088. Department of Fire Safety Engineering, Lund University, LundGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kaiser J (1980) Experiences of the gretener method. Fire Saf J 2(3):213–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Rasbash DJ, Ramachandran G, Kandola B, Watts JM, Law M (2004) Evaluation of fire safety. Wiley, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Sakenaite J, Vaidogas ER (2010) Fire risk indexing and fire risk analysis: a comparison of pros and cons. In: 10th international conference modern buildings, materials, structures and techniques, Vilnius, Lithuania, May 19–21Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Suardin J, Mannan MS, El-Halwagi M (2007) The integration of Dow’s fire and explosion index (F&EI) into process design and optimization to achieve inherently safer design. J Loss Prev Process Industries 20(1):79–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Dodd FJ, Donegan HA (1994) Some considerations in the combination and use of expert opinions in fire safety evaluation. Fire Saf J 22:315–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Dinda S (2004) Environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis: a survey. Ecol Econ 49:431–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ahmed B (2013) (online) RS for urban land cover mapping and change detection analysis. Geospatial World Weekly. Retrieved September 2015

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

Personalised recommendations