Challenges with Incidents of Fire in Nepal
We hear about fire accidents in the news almost every day but we rarely analyze the gravity of the situation. Since November 2020, 73 out of 77 districts have reported incidents of Fire in Nepal. The total number of incidents of fire in Nepal this year is 15 times more than what we had last year.
A few years back, incidents of fire were something we watched on television. In 2020 alone, over 58,250 wildfires burned 10.3 million acres. The total damage and economic loss caused by the Australian wildfires that went on from September 2019 and into 2020 came to around to a whopping $110 billion. Incidents of fire have been growing worldwide. Huge damages are being dealt to our jungles and our communities.
What is the State of Fire in Nepal?
What was once a news event from a foreign country has now started to grow in Nepal. We just skim through the news and do not address the fact that it is actually happening within our community. Living as an urbanite, the issues of other concerns such as water, roads, drainage system, et cetera, tend to outweigh the hazards of fire in our minds.
The level of concern and awareness among our communities needs to be raised so that proper measures and policies can be drafted. While the media from around the world talk about the incidents of fire in Nepal, things are more hush-hush in our country. (BBC, CNN, Aljazeera)
Today, a majority of fires are taking the jungles. Tomorrow it could come to our communities and cities. Every year, incidents of fire make their way onto the headline bulletins for newspapers and media. But they never make it beyond that. We need to change this state of things. We need to talk more about fires. Its causes – its effects – and how to contain them. Here are some challenges with incidents of fire and its management in Nepal:
1. Limited Fire Stations and Fire Engines to Contain Fire in Nepal
According to the international standard, there should be at least one firefighter for every 2000 people and one fire engine for every 28,000 population. In our case, the capital of the country has a handful of fire brigades and very limited manpower for fire fighting. Additionally, the equipment that we have is outdated and in need of upgrades. The number of fire stations is simply not enough. Not within the capital. Neither outside of the capital. As the population of Kathmandu valley is rising every single day, the risk of fire is also increasing. However, the numbers of fire stations still remain constant which is definitely a challenge.
2. Fire Extinguishers are a Rare Sight in our Homes
When we build or buy a house, we do not see if there’s a need to install a fire extinguisher in the house. This is an extremely dangerous thing to overlook. Normally, extinguishers are set up in malls, cinema halls, office buildings, and every other commercial complex out there. But when it comes to homes, we easily skip their installation. And even if fire extinguishers are installed, many of these places do not implement timely maintenance protocol. This results in an increase in the damage during an outbreak of fire.
3. Lack of Health Facilities Related to Fire Hazards
Do you know that there aren’t enough beds for special fire burn cases? Sadly, this is true. Our hospitals do not have enough capacity to address a large-scale fire incident in Nepal. Disasters like fires and earthquakes cannot be predicted. But if we do not have proper measures to cope with them, the damage gets amplified several folds.
4. Petrol Pumps are Located Within Residential Areas
Adding to the already existing risk of fire in Kathmandu, the location of petrol pumps and gas stations certainly doesn’t help things. We may have never thought about this too seriously. The petrol that is being stored underground in our neighborhood could put our lives in jeopardy. Not only the petrol and diesel stations, but our residential areas have also evenly distributed LPG Gas depots and stations. These kinds of places can be the center for big scale fire accidents in our communities.
5. Slow Response and Lack of Preparedness
In the case of Kathmandu, whenever a fire engine is called, it takes too much time to arrive at the disaster. Moreover, the narrow roads in the inner city of Kathmandu increase the challenge. Our fire fighting stations are always under-resourced. The fire brigades and related equipment need a serious upgrade. When people fight for public offices, fire safety is never an election agenda for them. Even after getting to the office, the only place we get to see fire-related talks and discussion is on the news. There aren’t many preparedness plans such as training and drill practices for community residents.
Mr. Rukesh Shilpakar, Fire Safety Expert, shares his views on why fire accidents happen in Nepal. Watch this short video to hear what he has to say.
In the next read, you can learn about 5 simple measures to prevent fire related incidents in Home and in the communities. If we have left any other challenges to talk about, please feel free to discuss the issue in the comment section below.