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441 Mumbai hospitals violating fire safety rules: Audit data

According to the data, of the 1,574 hospitals and nursing homes audited for fire safety in the city till November 10, 28% were found to have inadequate fire safety measures.

Written by Rupsa Chakraborty | Mumbai |
November 12, 2021 9:30:44 pm
People inspect an ICU ward after a fire broke out in Vijay Vallabh COVID-19 hospital at Virar, near Mumbai, India, Friday, April 23, 2021. (PTI Photo)

As many as 441 hospitals and nursing homes in the city do not have fire safety measures in place, according to data from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The highest number of fire safety violations was found among the surveyed civic, government and central-run hospitals.

According to the data, of the 1,574 hospitals and nursing homes audited for fire safety in the city till November 10, 28% were found to have inadequate fire safety measures. And of the 1,517 private hospitals and nursing homes audited, 387 – or 25.6% — were found to be violating fire safety rules.

Most of the audited civic and government-run hospitals were found to be struggling to upgrade their fire safety systems. As the data show, of the 47 civic-run hospitals, only two had got clearance for fire compliance. Out of the eight government-run hospitals audited, only one had complete fire safety. None of the two central government-run hospitals that were audited qualified as a fire safe hospital.

“We have been conducting fire audit on a monthly basis. There were violators, especially from private healthcare facilities. But after serving notices, they have upgraded their fire safety measures and their names have been removed from the present list of violators,” said a senior officer from Mumbai Fire Brigade. “But the civic and government-run hospitals are still failing to follow the rules.”

As per the audit, the most common violation is non-functional fire-fighting system like non-functional or absence of fire alarms, sprinklers and smoke detectors, as was seen in the Ahmednagar hospital fire that killed 11 patients on November 6.

“Fire exits are often blocked by junk objects. Often there are no exit markings, old wiring hangs from the roof. Some hospitals, especially private nursing homes, have made illegal additions,” said the officer.

With the ongoing auditing, Fire Brigade officials have been serving notices to violators under the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006.

“We have intimated all the hospitals. In some cases, we have also issued notices. If they don’t comply, they will be prosecuted,” said Hemant Parab, Chief Fire Officer, Mumbai Fire Brigade.

The Indian Express inquired with some of the hospitals and found that under the pressure, many civic-run hospitals have started upgrading their fire system. Kasturba Gandhi Hospital has installed new fire alarms as well as oxygen enrichment detectors—the first in any civic-run hospital. With this, if oxygen concentration crosses a certain level, an alarm will go off.

“Amid the pandemic, oxygen use has increased in hospitals. The density of ventilators enriches oxygen concentration in the air. So, any spark can cause fire mishaps, especially in ICUs,” said Dr Ramesh Bharmal, director of major civic-run hospitals.

The civic body is also planning to procure high-tech fire safety equipment to get the green tick from the Mumbai Fire Brigade.

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