Bahrain launches Ramadan tents safety checks
Manama, July 7, 2013
Bahrain is set to launch a nationwide inspection this week to weed out unregistered Ramadan tents that flout safety regulations, a report said.
Civil Defence teams will be out in force across Bahrain's five governorates to inspect the mushrooming traditional pavilions throughout the holy month to ensure they do not disrupt traffic flow or cause chaos in residential areas, according to the report in the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
Tent owners could also face penalties if they do not take permission from the Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs Ministry, said Civil Defence administration affairs directorate head Brigadier Hamad Abdulla Al Maraj.
"Some of these tents are pitched next to substations, mosques and main roads which pose a big threat," he said.
"If there is a fire in one of these tents, it becomes difficult for firemen to even enter the area as cars block the roads. Tent owners should get permission, and once they do, the details are passed to us by the ministry, which means we have a record of this particular tent.
"This is helpful as we have a database of contacts of all the registered tent owners which is useful in case of an emergency. We will know the exact location and the point of contact in case fire breaks out in these tents,” he added.
The teams hope to reduce the number of fires compared with last year by spreading awareness among residents. "Our inspection team will visit tents in the evening and interact with the owners and check if they follow all safety procedures," explained Brig Al Maraj.
"We have printed Arabic and English brochures and posters to educate masses about the safety steps they ought to take."
He said one of the main problems they face was minors encroaching open or private spaces to illegally set up tents, without informing authorities.
"A group of children get together and pitch a tent. Their parents have an idea of what they are doing and do not see this as a threat," he explained.
"The children play games such as PlayStation. This poses a risk as they are not even taught about potential fire risks in situation such as cooking, burning candles and smoking.
"We had a case last year of a fire that broke out in a small tent pitched by a group of youngsters next to a mosque in Arad. Fortunately, we controlled the situation and nothing major happened, but it could have been worse."
The Ramadan tents are popular among families and companies who hold ghabga events and also serve as a meeting point for visitors during the evenings.
"We sent female officers from our team who advised the tent owners on safety measures and they immediately followed all the procedures. This is a good sign from the women tent owners who are more cautious," he said.
Officials have repeatedly urged the public to use good quality electrical wires to prevent fires and avoid leaving children unattended in the tents.
"There is a big problem of shoddy wiring used by the tent owners to connect air conditioning units, televisions and lights," said Brig Al Maraj.
He said sometimes families connect the wires to the main power supply of their homes.
"They really do not know how dangerous this could be and amateurs connect some wires to ensure there is ample power supply in these tents," he added. "In some cases they leave the air conditioning unit working the entire day which could result in a short circuit."
The team will work closely with the Health, Industry and Commerce and Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs ministries to carry out the campaign.
However, tents pitched inside hotels during Ramadan will be under the supervision of Tourism officials.
Under Bahrain's law, Ramadan tent owners can be fined BD50 ($8,044) if they fail to remove their tent after the stipulated period, which could be doubled.
The Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs Ministry is responsible for imposing fines and has the authority to confiscate belongings from the tents of owners who fail to pay. – TradeArabia News Service