English | Dzongkha Saturday, December 5, 2020

Ensuring fire safety- Bumthang

Dec 7, 2019

After recurrent fire disasters in recent years at Chamkhar town in Bumthang, the Dzongkhag administration is finally gearing towards ensuring fire safety in the town. This comes in the form of installing fire hydrants in the town, which began a few weeks ago.

Authorities in the district also carried out fire drills and various sensitization programmes and inspection of electrical wires and wood-burning stove (Bukhari) chimney in all the buildings in the town, recently.

Three years on since the last major fire disaster in Chamkhar, people in the town still live in fear.  The last fire in December 2016 razed 6 houses that had over 20 shops in them. All these buildings have been rebuilt after the fire. Most of them have now been insured unlike in the past.

Living in fear of another house fire has become a habit for the residents but not many people have fire protection devices such as fire extinguishers placed in their shops and residences except for few shops, hotels and entertainment centres.

“As winter approaches, I become very cautious of fire and become worried. I sleep late at night and monitor the town to see if there’s any unusual smoke or spark coming out of buildings here. I have lost my home to fire twice, once in 2011 and another in December 2016, so I worry a lot that we might get struck by another fire. Life has already been tough for me since I lost my home and belongings to the last 2 fires,” shares Ugyen, a Shopkeeper at Chamkhar in Bumthang.

“When I talk about fire, it brings back bad memories. We still live in fear. Fire doesn’t spare anything; we even lost a life to the fire in a hotel in the past. It would be beneficial to the people here if the government could depute 2 persons who keep on checking the electrical wires and Bukhari pipes all through the winter and remind people of fire safety. This would make people wary of their electrical wirings and condition of their Bukhari chimneys,” added Sherab, a Resident of Chamkhar.

Recently, the Dzongkhag Administration and other authorities in the district, while conducting an inspection of electrical wirings and Bukhari chimneys in the town issued notification letters to those residents and shopkeepers whose wirings and Bukhari chimneys had to be fixed. They were given a one-month duration to fix them.

Meanwhile, the installation of fire hydrants in the town also began last week. Nu 1.4 M is being spent on the project. The hydrants will enable fire trucks to draw water from a water main during the time of emergencies.

“The Royal Bhutan Police, the Thromde Ngotshab’s office, the Dzongkhag Administration and Bhutan Power Corporation have conducted the inspection of the electrical wirings and Bukhari chimneys. We have notified the people whose wirings and chimneys have to be rectified. Moreover, with the fire hydrants coming up, there will be hydrant points in 15 locations which would cover the entire area of the town,” said Pasang Dorji, the Bumthang Dzongda.

A drill on operating fire extinguishers and fire safety sensitization programmes were also conducted for the Chamkhar’s business community and people working in entertainment centres, recently.

“In 2017, the entire people of Bumthang requested His Holiness the Je Khenpo to perform a ritual to avert misfortunes in the town and after the rituals were performed, we haven’t had any major fire in the town. However, the Municipality, Thromde Ngotshab’s office, the Dzongkhag Administration and the Royal Bhutan Police conducted a fire drill to the public where they are taught about the operation of fire extinguishers and other fire safety practices,” said Ugen Sangay, the Thromde Ngotshab for Bumthang Throm.

“Since I joined Bumthang as the new Dzongda last year, I have been telling the people in the town to purchase a fire extinguisher each. Some of them have purchased and we would like to acknowledge their cooperation and we have again told the ones who haven’t done so to buy one each. If they still don’t want to comply with our request, we might have to take some necessary actions,” the Dzongda added.

Meanwhile, the installation of the fire hydrants in the town is expected to complete by the end of this month.


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