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In yet another revelation of how slipshod safety standards are in Bangladesh, the BBC reports that the clothing factory that went ablaze two weeks ago didn't have a valid fire safety certificate.

The Director General of Fire Service and Civil Defence, Abu Naim Mohammad Shahidullah, told the BBC that the factory's certificate had expired in June and was not renewed.
"The fire safety certificate was given [to the factory] last year," Mr Shahidullah said.

"But he [the owner] is supposed to get it renewed this year any time after June 2012. We gave him a reminder that he should contact us for renewal. It was not done."

Mr Shahidullah said the fire safety certificates are issued annually to factories and that the owner of Tazreen Fashions Limited did not have valid documentation for the period between July 2012 and June 2013.

Operating a factory without a fire safety certificate is technically illegal in Bangladesh, but those rules are frequently ignored.

Shahidullah said that had factory owner Delowar Hussain sought renewal, the factory would have been inspected.  However, it's pretty safe to say it would have flunked, based on a front-page story in today's NYT.  It reveals that even by Bangladesh's low standards, the factory was a death trap.

Fire safety preparations were woefully inadequate. The building itself was under construction — even as sewing work continued inside — and mounds of flammable yarn and fabric were illegally stored on the ground floor near electrical generators.
Additionally, the windows were blocked by iron bars, and the only staircases led into the fire.  A member of the fire safety team said that her training consisted of little more than a rudimentary lesson on how to use a fire extinguisher.  Precious seconds were lost when the alarm initially sounded and workers were told to ignore it.

Tell me again how sending manufacturing jobs overseas actually saves money?

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