City’s public places vulnerable to fire hazards

Hem Dulal

Kathmandu, May 24:

Most of the city’s restaurants, multi-storeyed shops and banquet halls have little or no fire safety measures. Worse, even the norms for fire safety in these places are yet to be formed. Official at the Juddha Barun Yantra (JBY), Kathmandu, said most of restaurants and departmental stores in the Valley are vulnerable when it comes to fire safety measures.

“Though some of restaurants and departmental stores have kept fire extinguishers and other safety gadgets, the people working there may not be able to use them when real accident occurs,” Dharmalal Shrestha, official at the Barun Yantra said. Vulnerability to fire hazards is surmounting every day in the ever growing number of multi-storied buildings housing shops and restaurants and other offices, he said.

Laxmi Prasad Timalsina, chief of the JBY, however, said that the fire safety measures taken by fire-star hotels in the city is very good. “They regularly ask us to visit and examine the fire safety measures adopted there,” Timalsina said. Timalsina also said that the government authority concerned has yet to fix any fire safety standard for public places where large number of people gather and there are no laws related with it. Jeevan Pradhan, one

of the owner of the Jire Khursani Restaurant at Baneshwor, said he had no idea or training about maintaining fire safety in his restaurant. “We have not been asked to maintain any safety measure by any authority concerned,” he said.

There are two fire engines and one ladder engine operating under the Juddha Barun Yantra responsible to take control of fire in the city. “We are in dire need of more branches of fire brigades along the ring road area to provide prompt services when accident occurs,” Shrestha

said. Record has revealed that most fire break-outs in restaurants and shops are caused by short circuit and explosion of cooking stoves. A total of 136 fire cases have been recorded in the JBY during the current fiscal year whereas the number was 194 last year. “We don’t keep in the record of minor fires where we don’t have to go with fire engines and our squad,” Shrestha said.