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Fire audit at 67 hospitals: 43 found wanting,three have ‘major deficiencies’

Even as the state government ordered a fire safety audit of all government-owned buildings in the aftermath of the fire that claimed five lives in Mantralaya,an inspection of the city’s hospitals has found that patients in major healthcare institutions are at a serious risk in the eventuality of an emergency.

Written by Stuti Shukla | Mumbai | Published: July 3, 2012 5:14:15 am

Even as the state government ordered a fire safety audit of all government-owned buildings in the aftermath of the fire that claimed five lives in Mantralaya,an inspection of the city’s hospitals has found that patients in major healthcare institutions are at a serious risk in the eventuality of an emergency.

Of the 67 big hospitals inspected,at least three were found to have major deficiencies. These private hospitals,that were sent second notices for not correcting major deficiencies,are Seven Hills Hospital in Marol,BSES Hospital in Andheri and K J Somaiyya Hospital in Sion.

As many as 43 had some “minor to medium” deficiencies,including all major government hospitals such as JJ Group of hospitals,Cama Hospital,St George Hospital and BMC-run hospitals such as KEM,Nair and Sion.

The private hospitals vehemently opposed the finding of the inspection,insisting that all required fire safety norms are in place. M N Rao,head of administration of Seven Hills,said the hospital had world-class facilities and state-of-the-art fire-fighting system.

Raj Bhugra of BSES Hospital said the administration department had personally taken care to instal fire-fighting equipment, signage to mark exit points etc. Geeta Niyogi of K J Somaiyya Hospital admitted that deficiencies were found when fire officials first inspected the building six months ago. “However,recently we finished getting all our safety measures in place,” she said.

The inspection had been carried out soon after a major fire claimed many lives in Kolkata’s AMRI Hospital last December. Letters went sent to all hospitals having more than 100 beds to take care of various fire safety measures such as fixed fire-fighting system in working condition,no storage of LPG cylinders,fire extinguishers at strategic locations,presence of wet riser system with hose reel,smoke detectors and fire alarms,cleared refuge areas and unblocked fire exits.

As many as 20 hospitals complied with the guidelines while the remaining were found having deficiencies during the second round of inspection. A senior Fire Brigade official said most government and municipal hospitals have basic,first level of fire safety but in most cases lack of maintenance of equipment renders it dysfunctional. “Under the Fire Act,2006,we have the power to prosecute erring hospitals if they repeatedly fail to comply with norms,” he said.

Dean of KEM Hospital and director of major civic hospitals,Dr Sanjay Oak,said the staff in major hospitals have undertaken upgrade of fire safety on their premises last week,days after the Mantralaya blaze. “Everything will be in place within a week,” he said.

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