ISLAMABAD    -  Majority of higher educational institutions (HEIs) in the city are missing fire prevention and protection safety arrangements to avoid any unfortunate incident, The Nation learnt on Saturday.

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has received a letter by Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI), Emergency and Disaster Management (E&DM) mentioning the enforcement of building standards for fire prevention and life safety regulated under Islamabad Fire Prevention and Life Safety Regulations, 2010.

It said that the preventive and safety arrangements to avoid any emergency are ‘largely’ missing from educational institutions. The E&DM also has asked to conduct the safety audit of the higher education building.

The department also asked the HEC to provide the list of HEIs as it will conduct a filed inspection and instruct about the safety plan for each building.

The letter issued said, “It is stated that the Fire Prevention, Protection and life safety arrangements, precisely in fire perspective are largely missing from the educational institution, inviting hazardous eventuality any minute, be it natural or manmade disaster.”

It also said that the state of preparedness for active as well as passive fire incidents thus require instantaneous pre-emptive measures, installing mandatory rescue-apparatus/equipment, forthwith.

The letter further added that for the purpose, it is requested that the list of universities/institutes within the administrative control and jurisdiction of HEC within Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) limits, containing names/numbers/ addresses of focal persons (including HEC) be shared with this office for conducting field inspections and subsequent advisory reports, to inculcate a vital safety plan for each building, within the shortest possible time frame.

It is further requested that, primarily higher education building/ premises, may be scheduled for ‘Safety Audit.’

“This may be kindly assigned “top priority” being a serious safety lapse and hazard, in fire perspective,” said the letter.   

Educationist Tahir Malik said that it is very important for all HEIs to comply with all building safety measures to avoid any disaster.

He said that thousands of students are enrolled in the HEIs which have multi-storey buildings, while a large number of students are also residing in hostels.

“Any natural disaster of October 8 cannot be avoided in this situation,” he said. He stressed that fire safety and other safety measures need to be checked regularly for the safety of the students. Earlier, Capital Development Authority (CDA) had adopted the Safety Provisions 2016 in the year 2017 after a fire broke out at the Awami Markaz building.

The safety provisions 2016 mentioning the engineering council has said that every year a significant number of casualties and injuries occur as a result of incidents of fire in the country.

It said that about 70pc deaths took place in existing buildings including housing, commercial and industrial units only due to non-provision of fire safety and fire protection systems.

It also said that a large number of major fires in 2015-16 happened in big cities, wherein, a significant number of people died. There were massive losses of material and property and environmental pollution was caused.