The fire in Sunrise Hospital at Bhandup’s Dreams Mall took place in spite of the premises undergoing two separate fire audits conducted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation of private hospitals as well as commercial malls in the last six months.
The last major fire in a city mall had occurred in Orchid City Centre Mall, Mumbai Central on October 22, 2020. Subsequently the BMC had undertaken a fire safety audit of all malls in the city.
The fire audit of Dreams Mall had revealed that it did not have a functional fire safety system and its fire exits were blocked. A notice was served to the mall for fire safety violations. However, the mall had not submitted a compliance report till now, said a senior fire brigade official.
“We served a notice to Dreams Malls for under-compliance of fire safety norms. Once our firefighting gets over, we will check if they have submitted any compliance report,” said Hemant Parab, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Mumbai Fire Brigade.
A similar exercise was done to evaluate the fire safety of all the city hospitals following a fire mishap in the civic general hospital in Bhandara district that killed 10 newborn babies in January this year. The BMC had then undertaken a fire audit of all public and private hospitals in Mumbai, including Sunrise Hospital, which found that 701 hospitals and nursing homes were violating fire safety norms.
Dr Vilas Mohekar, medical officer in S ward, said that Sunrise Hospital was found compliant with all fire safety norms. “It has a fire safety alarm system and NOC from the fire department. There was no violation in that respect,” he said.
There are, however, allegations that due diligence was not done by the BMC while granting the hospital the nod to operate inside the mall.
“In spite of the mall not having the requisite approvals, permission was granted for the hospital to run. The hospital did not have an occupancy certificate (OC). The BMC gave illegal conditional OC during COVID. Neither does the hospital have fire safety clearance,” BJP leader Kirit Somaiya said.
Dr Hafeez Rehman, CEO of Sunrise Hospital, said the hospital structure was ready long ago but could not start operations because permission for the mall was pending. “Eventually we did create a separate entrance and last October got a conditional occupational certificate. We were in the process of getting a permanent certificate later,” he said, adding that is not uncommon for hospitals to get a conditional OC.
The hospital is located on the third floor of the mall with a separate entrance and three separate lifts. Rehman said the hospital has a nursing license and installed a fire safety system. “The mall has no fire system, which the BMC is also aware of,” he added.
When the fire broke out, civic officials said the central ventilation system posed a big risk in spreading the fire. The power supply was also cut and the evacuation of patients was undertaken. While the fire did not reach the hospital, smoke engulfed the entire facility.
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