An overwhelming number of fire-related incidents in Pakistan have raised questions about the sustainability of Pakistan’s urban and forested areas. Disasters stemming from crop fires, forest fires, and buildings catching fire have become a routine occurrence. The devastating wildfire in the Koh-e-Sulayman Mountain range in Baluchistan’s Shirani District spread over more than 10000 acres of land and destroyed almost 40 percent of the trees, contributing to loss of biodiversity, innocent lives. And countless livelihoods. Subsequently, an acute shortage of fire protection infrastructure in Pakistan’s major urban centers poses a serious risk to socioeconomic activities and human life. According to research, around 165,000 people are killed by fires every year in Pakistan, and as a result, 164,00 are injured or lose the ability to work.
Unfortunately, the scale of this threat is not fully recognized in Pakistan and recent fire incidents have resulted in considerable economic and life losses. Approximately 80% of the structures in Karachi do not have emergency exits in buildings. Apart from the fire hazards caused by human activity, the prolonged heat wave and poor handling of climate change have also exacerbated the fire situation in the country. Recently, significant fires incidents have been reported in Islamabad, Swat Forest, Karachi, and Shangla District.
The Iqbal Institute of Policy Studies is conducting a webinar on the topic ‘Fire Hazards and Firefighting in Urban and Forested Areas’ to highlight the rising incidents of building fires in Pakistan and suggest possible strategies to counter such devastating events.