Euroasia Felt Industries Limited caught fire on the night of April 28, last year. As the blaze started to spread in the blink of an eye, the Mini Fire Brigade at Sardagonj in Kashimpur, Gazipur received a call.
The garment factory is around a kilometre away from the Mini Fire Brigade. Two units of the fire brigade rushed to the spot instantly, brought the fire under control and extinguished the fire in a very short time.
"We reached the spot within two to three minutes. If the whole machines and raw materials inside the factory were burned, it would have been a loss of around Tk20 crores," said Merazul Islam, a warehouse inspector who heads the team at the Mini Fire Brigade.
The Mini Fire Brigade, the country's first community-based fire station, have fought more than hundred fires in the Kashimpur area in more than three years.
DBL Group, one of the leading garment conglomerates of the country, set up the Mini Fire Brigade as a part of its CSR activities. The company implemented the initiative with the help of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence and German Government.
Not only the garment factories, the fire team rushes to any fire incident in the area. As a result, the extent of damage by the fires in the area has come down significantly.
Merazul Islam said the nearest fire station is the Dhaka Export Processing Zone Fire Station. It would take at least 30 minutes to reach blazing Euroasia Felt Industries for them. The damage would be much higher.
"DBL Group decided to set up the community-based fire station on the back of the two major garment factory disasters: Tazreen Fashions fire in 2012 and Rana Plaza collapse in 2013. At that time, German Agency for International Cooperation came up with the idea of setting up a mini fire brigade," said Mohammed Zahidullah, chief sustainability officer of DBL Group.
The Mini Fire Brigade has two fire trucks- one with a capacity of 1,800 litres of water and the other is a recovery vehicle with a capacity of 400 litres of water. Fire officials said they can fight a fire for 15-20 minutes with that amount of water.
"The number of this kind of community-based fire stations should be increased across the country because it can reach the spot fast and put out the fire. It can reduce the extent of damage significantly," said M A Jabbar, managing director of DBL Group.
The fire team usually goes up to five kilometres from the station to fight fires. The team receives calls from local people as well as fire headquarters.
"We get around seven to eight fire incidents in the area a month. If the fire becomes large, we call other stations to send fire units," said Merazul Islam.