Earlier this week a major fire erupted in the operation theatre of emergency in Nehru hospital of Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). PGI’s chief security officer P C Sharma talks to The Indian Express about why of late there is an increase in the fire incidents at the institute.
What is your preliminary assessment about the latest fire incident?
There was a fire which broke out in Operation Theatre (3) of Nehru Emergency of PGI on Wednesday night. The fire was immediately controlled by the security staff. Doctors and nurses played a very important role in shifting and managing the patients during the incident and a tragedy was averted. Subsequently, a committee was formed by the administration to know the exact cause of the fire and I am also part of the committee. We visited the spot on Friday and a detailed inspection was carried out. I cannot reveal the findings currently because the report has not been submitted yet. The report will provide the assessment what triggered the fire incident.
There were reports that fire alarms in the OT were not working. Also, some people said the police and local fire service was not informed immediately after the incident. Is it true?
No, as per our protocol, we have to inform the fire services and the local police if such an incident is reported. This time as well, the fire service was informed immediately. Regarding the fire alarms, they were very much working in the area.
It is not the first time we have seen a fire incident at PGI. The number is huge if we see the fire incidents in the last two years. What is the reason?
Yes, there have been small incidents of fire in the Nehru Hospital. The major reason is that the buildings are very old and due to short circuit, sometimes fire breaks out. The security staff respond to such situations immediately and fire is contained quickly.
So what is PGI doing to prevent such incidents at PGI in future?
IIT Roorkie was asked to carry out a fire audit of the institute. They recommended some changes and we worked on those recommendations. Then we submitted a fire plan to Chandigarh fire services as well. They pointed out some changes and we are working on them. Once we make the necessary changes, we will get NOC from the fire department of all our buildings.
The Chandigarh Administration in the past asked PGI to fix shortcomings in the buildings found during their fire audit.
Yes, by and large we have worked on the recommendations.
What all infrastructure is available at PGI to control the fire incidents?
We have installed fire extinguishers as well as waterlines at all the places. There is a 24×7 fire control room which coordinates with all the departments. In each building, there is a separate control room. We have our own fire tender, which is equipped with latest technology. There is a dedicated fire officer for the institute, who is looking into the fire-related things.
In the latest incident, security staff played an important role. Will you provide training to institute staff to deal with such a situation?
Not only security wing, we have also been regularly providing training to all the PGI employees. As many as 2,500 PGI staffers have been trained so far by the institute in which they are provided basic information how to react in such situations and how to use fire extinguisher and inform the fire department immediately if such a situation arises.
Several committees have been formed after the fire incidents were reported? What action was taken?
Whenever a committee comes up with remedial measures and recommendations, they are followed. There are several departments at the institute. So the recommendations go to different departments and, yes, they are complied with on the ground.