FBR to set up crisis management cells at all collectorates
Following incident of fire at the Customs House in Karachi, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has decided to set up 'Centralised Crisis Management Cell' at all Model Customs Collectorates (MCC) to ensure easy exit by the tax officials/visitors during any fire incident. In this connection, the FBR has issued instructions to the Collectors of Customs MCCs here on Tuesday.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2012
Interestingly, the procedure followed by MCC, Preventive, Karachi, is to be followed by all MCCs lacking mechanism to preserve tax record of importers in case of such incidents at the Collectorates. According to FBR's instructions, MCC Preventive Karachi has issued a standing operating procedure (SOP) regarding incidents of fire, earthquakes or any other such situations. Tax authorities have directed the MCCs to notify similar kind of SOP by all Collectorates/Directorates. Moreover, the requisite equipment and infrastructure should be put in place within a fortnight to effectively deal with such exigencies.
The SOP issued by the MCC Preventive Karachi has not touched the issue of preservation of the tax records pertaining to importers. Sources said that the fire incident in June 2012 at the Customs House Karachi has laid bare a bitter truth ie we are not at all prepared to cope with the hazards like fire and other untoward incidents, which creates panic. In order to ensure a consorted response to any incident creating a crisis situation the SOP has been formulated for information and strict compliance by all field offices concerned.
Firstly, a 'Centralised Crisis Management Cell' is being created at the MCC Preventive Customs House Karachi. The Cell will be headed by the Additional Collector or Deputy Collector Preventive. The members of the Cell would include SPS Headquarters-I, IPS Administration, CHO-I, CHO-II and main security gate officer.
As per the SOP, in the event of fire, electric supply is to be turned off from the main switch board by the staff of Pakistan Public Works Department (Pak PWD), Electrical. All the elevators would immediately be stopped by the lift operators in such situation of crises.
In the event of any crisis after office hours, the Main Security Gate Officer shall immediately inform the AC/DC In-charge of the Centralized Crisis Management Cell and after receipt of further instructions shall immediately inform the Fire Fighting Departments of Karachi Port Trust and KMC. In case of any such situation during office hours, the SPS Headquarters being the Chief Security Officer shall adopt the same procedure.
A periodic check of the electrical wiring, sockets and appliances shall be made by the staff of the Pak PWD (Electrical) to ensure that there is no sparking and over-heating because of fire. The SDO Electrical Pak PWD shall submit a report in this regard to the Project Director on weekly basis.
The SOP said that all the non-authorised persons are banned to enter Customs House premises with immediate effect. This is to be enforced by the SPS Headquarters being Chief Security Officer and the staff posted at Main Security Gate Customs House shall ensure the implementation of the scheme. The SPS Headquarters being Chief Security Officer and the staff posted at the Main Security Gate Customs House shall ensure that the staff posted at the Exit Gate does not allow entry of vehicle/person through the exit gate and the passage remains open/clear in case of emergency.
The Project Director shall ensure installation of proper and adequate fire extinguishers on each floor and surroundings of the Customs House, building capable enough to cope up any type of fire extinguishing in consultation with the SDO PAK PWD Civil. The timely maintenance and refilling of all these fire extinguishers shall be the responsibility of the IPS/Administration.
The Project Director shall ensure maintenance and testing of fire fighting equipment like smoke detectors and water hoses and water supply pipeline with respective SDOs of Pak PWD electrical and civil on quarterly basis. All CHOs would be responsible for cleaning up stairway/corridors of their respective Collectorates. The SOP elaborated that every Collectorate/Directorate housed in the Customs House shall nominate one AC/DC under intimation to the AC/DC head of the 'Centralised Crisis Management Cell' in the MCC Preventive from their respective Collectorate/Directorate who would ensure that smoking in their respective premises of Customs House Building is strictly banned.
The Cell would also ensure that chewing of betel leaves and Gutka in their respective premises of the Customs House is strictly banned. It would also ensure that piling up of papers/old files, samples of all sorts area not allowed to be accumulated being highly combustible in their respective premises of Customs House Building.
The SOP has also issued separate guidelines for the staff and users of the Customs House Building. Whosoever notices abnormal smoke or any identification of fire should alert the Chief Security Officer AC/DC Incharge Crises Management Cell and others around him.
All the ACs and DCs of the respective Collectorates should guide the occupants of Customs House for vacating the building immediately yet calmly to avoid panic and ask to vacate the building immediately. All those who are present in the Customs House in the event of any crises shall have an orderly exit from the building and shall follow the glow of the emergency lights. The periodic drill is to be undertaken for this purpose. The focal AC/DC of the respective Collectorate/Directorate shall be responsible for carrying out such drills on quarterly basis.
The CHO-I shall ensure providing a clear passage to fire fighters, volunteers or professionals, as they rush inside the building. He shall ensure that no vehicles are parked in the main driveway leading to exit gate so that fire fighting vehicles have a clear access to the premises.
Since during a fire, most people succumb to inhalation of smoke and the victims lose consciousness and eventually lose their lives, therefore, places where a lot of smoke has accumulated be avoided until escape or rescue is affected. It should be ensured by the staff of the Pak PWD Electrical that main switches on each floor are switched off after office hours in order to ensure that no equipment/appliances remains connected after the closure of the office.
All focal persons and CHOs of the respective Collectorate/Directorate shall ensure that stairways of Customs House are made safe passage for movement of persons by clearing up junk furniture prices within 15 days, the SOP said. The Chief Security Officer and CHO-I shall ensure that no unauthorised parking of vehicles in the premises of the Customs House compound is allowed so that a clear passage is available for the rescue workers in the advent of any crises.
The SDO Civil of Electrical of Pak PWD shall be approached by the Project Director for installation of emergency LED Lights along the corridors and staircase so that in event of any crises and electricity failure or intentional switching off of electricity, those existing the building may find their way out and should not panic.
The tariff police shall be approached by the AC/DC Incharge 'Centralized Crisis Management Cell' to enforce a 'no parking zone' on the main Customs House road. The Administration Branch Preventive shall ensure that plaques showing way to emergency exits and bearing telephone numbers of Fire Brigade, Civil Defence, Police, Ambulance Service and bomb disposal shall be placed at all the prominent places including entry/exit points of the Customs House.
A fire fighting squad headed by Customs House Officer MCC, Preventive shall be formed. The squad headed by the CHO, MCC Preventive shall be formed. The squad headed by the CHO shall comprise of three Havaldars and 12 Sepoys (from all the Collectorates and Directorates housed in Customs House on quarterly rotation basis), shall be imparted training in the fire fighting with Civil Defence and shall be provided with Yellow re-inforced plastic helmets and Fluorescent Fire Proof Jackets and shall be stationed at the CHO Office. In the event of a fire breaking out, the squad will activate and use fire extinguishers and direct an orderly exodus from the building, the SOP added.