KATHMANDU, June 19: While fire safety is still an under-discussed issue among building code drafters, fire accidents killed as many as 95 lives and caused property losses worth Rs 4.88 billion across the country in the fiscal year 2018/19. This marks a significant increase in the loss of life and property in fire accidents.
Records maintained by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) show that fiscal year 2018/19 saw 75 percent increase in property losses in fire accidents compared to the year 2017/18 when the losses stood at Rs 2.786 billion. Likewise, in the fiscal year 2016/17, property worth Rs 1.661 billion were lost in fire accidents.
Fire accidents killed 95 people -- 80 males and 15 females -- in the fiscal year 2018/19 and this is an increase by 19 percent compared to the deaths in 2017/18. The number of fire accidents also increased by 61 percent in the fiscal year 2018/19; a total of 3,035 cases were recorded during the year. The year 2017/18 saw 1883 fire accidents across the country against 1,389 accidents in fiscal year 2016/17.
Officials from the Disaster and Conflict Management Division (DCMD) at MoHA said they have been conducting programs relating to fire safety on regular basis but direly lack a feedback mechanism at the local level as federalism is still in the process of implementation.
“The DCMD recommends fire-resilient construction materials in house construction, installing lightning arresters and changing fire-prone thatch roofing among other things,” Under
Secretary at the DCMD Beda Nidhi Khanal told Republica.
Meanwhile, MoHA claimed that the surge in losses due to fire accidents in the fiscal year 2018/19 was caused primarily due to rapid urbanization and lack of awareness among the public about safe use of electrical appliances.
“People are not aware of the risks associated with modern home appliances and as a result accidents occur,” Khanal said.