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Bangladesh: Fire Breaks Out at Dhaka RMG Factory

A fire broke out at a Mirpur ready-made garment factory in Bangladesh Sunday, and workers escaped through windows, scaling a makeshift plank to get to an adjacent building and sliding down exterior polls to escape a fire blazing in the storeroom below.

According to Bangladesh’s The Daily Star, the fire originated in the storeroom of Cordial Design Ltd located on the third floor of an eight-story building, but the cause of the blaze remains unknown. The fire service was able to contain the fire within an hour and no casualties were reported.

Cordial operates 12 sewing lines, produces up to 500,000 pieces per month and employs roughly 1,200 workers. The factory makes goods for brands and retailers like Inditex, Primark and Tesco, and its website notes it has successfully complied with the companies’ social and security stipulations.

The Bangladesh government and organizations like the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety have been working to inspect factories and upgrade working conditions in the country, but the continued fires and lack of viable escape routes in factories like Cordial Design is evidence that much remains to be done.

The Alliance, for example—whose signatories include Gap, Macy’s, VF Corporation and Walmart—said in its annual report in July it has inspected all of its 587 member factories, but that only scratches the surface of Bangladesh’s roughly 3,500 factories.

And despite the desire to avoid duplicating inspections, the Accord said last month that it would not honor inspection reports produced under the direction of Alliance brands, and some say the move is a setback for safety improvements in the industry as the collaboration is necessary to changing conditions.