Zaheen Knitwears factory ‘lacked’ adequate fire safety system

The factory of Zaheen Knitwears Limited which was ravaged by a blaze in Narayanganj lacked adequate fire safety system, according to the Fire Service and Civil Defence.

“The fire safety system in the factory was inadequate. We faced difficulties in fighting the fire as the factory did not have water supply,” said Lt Col Zillur Rahman, a director of the fire service.

After bringing the fire under control around 9pm, the firefighters started putting out the small flames and searching if there was someone inside.

The fire service said 13 fire engines from Dhaka, Narayanganj, Sonargaon, Bandar and other nearby areas were used in the firefighting operation.

The fire broke out around 4:30pm on Friday and spread to the ground and first floors of four out of six buildings on the compound in the Madanpur bus stand area, said Abdullah Al Arefin, deputy assistant director of Narayanganj Fire Service.

Zillur said the roof of one of the buildings collapsed and it is no longer suitable for use.

The fire spread fast as the factory had readymade garments, he said.

“Although it was weekend, a firefighting team was supposed to be in the factory in line with the building code. But we did not see one.”

Md Jamal Uddin, managing director of Jamaluddin Group that owns Zaheen Knitwears, claimed the factory had adequate fire safety system and that the disaster would not have happened had it been fully open.

Fire breaks out at a garment factory in Narayanganj  

Most of the units were closed due to weekend. The factory suffered a loss of Tk 280 million to Tk 300 million as goods ready for shipment and machinery were burnt, according to Jamal. 

He also suspects it was an act of sabotage. “Four buildings caught fire. I don’t know if it was just an accident or sabotage.”

Md Sazzad Hussain, director general of the fire service, said a committee to investigate the incident will find out what had actually happened and how much damage the fire caused.

He also said they did not have reports of anyone missing.

Zaheen Knitwears runs knitting, dyeing and sewing units in the factory complex, according to the company’s website.

Jasim Mia, chief of the factory workers, said, “Friday is a weekly holiday, so except for some, most of the units in the factory were closed. There were fewer people inside than on the other days.”

Worker Masum Billah said the finishing and woven sections were open while the knitting section was closed.

"All of a sudden I saw a blaze on the upper floor. First, there was a fire on the first floor and it was leaping upwards, then it spread. We all came out then,” said Masum.

Earlier, Narayanganj Additional Superintendent of Police Sheikh Billal Hossain said the firefighters struggled to extinguish the fire as the compound is a large one.

"However, no worker was trapped inside and no casualties have been reported yet,” Billal Hossain added.