In the early morning hours of February 23, 2016, a fire broke out in the Pretty Sweaters Ltd factory in Gazipur. The fire, for which the cause is yet to be determined, broke out in the southwest corner of the 7th floor, where it was successfully contained. While there were 100 workers on site at the time of the fire, no fatalities or injuries resulted from the fire.
This factory had been inspected by the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord) and was actively undergoing remediation. The factory’s sprinkler system required repair in order to meet the international standard set by the Alliance and the Accord, but the factory had not yet completed the repair at the time of the fire. The faulty sprinklers allowed the fire to spread farther than it would have had a fully functional and complaint system been in place. Fire doors and hydrants, which had undergone required repairs, were instrumental in containing the fire to the 7th floor and enabling factory staff and Fire Service and Civil Defense (FSCD) personnel to extinguish the fire. While the 7th floor remains closed, the factory did not sustain significant structural or electrical damage, and production in the rest of the factory has resumed.
This incident underscores the importance of the work of the Alliance, the Accord and the Government of Bangladesh to remediate factories to meet international safety standards, to push factories that are moving slowly to accelerate their remediation progress, and to ensure that workers are empowered with the safety training they need to respond in an emergency.