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Tuesday , December 13 , 2011
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Hospitals without NOC

The team of fire services officers constituted by the state government to check safety measures at hospitals visited two prominent private healthcare addresses in the city on Monday. Metro accompanied the team headed by additional director-general Debapriya Biswas.

Where: Woodlands Multispeciality Hospital, Alipore

When: 1.30pm

What the team saw:

Approach — The gate and the approach road were too narrow for comfortable passage of fire engines. The driveway was broken and vehicles were parked on it. The officers asked the authorities to demolish the porch at the main entrance since it might hinder movement of tenders and skylifts.

Fire-safety measures — The officers could not find sprinklers in the hospital and the fire alarms were deactivated. The hospital has started building a water reservoir. Five staircases can be used in an emergency but there are no ramps.

Open space — Discarded furniture, TV sets, coolers, refrigerators, plywood sheets, iron rods, plastic jars, oxygen cylinders and medicine cartons were dumped beside the hospital buildings. Electrical wires were hanging between the annexe and the main building.

Basement — The basement had changing rooms for male and female nurses and a maintenance room, which is sometimes used as a dump.

No-objection certificate The fire services had refused to renew the hospital’s NOC in March 2009 and granted a provisional certificate for a year on the condition that the mandatory measures would be in place by then. The firemen, however, did not inspect the hospital in March 2010. The next inspection was conducted in January 2011. Though the hospital did not have measures in place even then, another provisional certificate for a year was granted. On Monday, officers said fire-safety norms were still not in place.

Team’s version: “They promised to put in place the required fire-safety measures and clear the basement by January. We advised them to connect the three roofs with ramps. We will inform the state government that they have been flouting the fire norms for quite some time,” said Biswas.

Hospital’s version: “We have applied for the NOC and will abide by all the state government norms,” said hospital director Probir Bose.

Where: Fortis Hospitals and Kidney Institute, Rashbehari Avenue

When: 4.30pm

What the team saw

Approach — Fire tenders will easily reach the hospital since it is on Rasbehari Avenue. Officers raised questions about the narrow entrance. The exit gate was closed.

Fire-safety measures — The fire alarms were functional but there were not enough sprinklers. The staircases, hardly 1.3m wide, had medicine cartons stacked on them. Open wires were hanging above the staircases, a portion of which had been converted into a seating area for patients and relatives. The several mezzanine floors across the hospital could prove dangerous, said an officer. The emergency fire exit was not connected with the operating theatre.

Open space — Forget a fire tender, there is hardly space for a car to drive around the hospital building. Occupying much of the cramped space are discarded furniture, construction material and waste.

Basement — There is no basement. Officers asked the authorities to shut down a kitchen behind the main building.

No-objection certificate — The firemen had refused to renew the NOC this August citing violation of fire norms.

Team’s version: “They are upgrading their fire-safety measures. However, even now, they are flouting a number of norms and portions of the hospital still look like a death trap. We will conduct another inspection early next year,” said Biswas.

Hospital’s version: “We will comply with all the norms and will shift the kitchen,” said Mahesh Kant, the facility director of the hospital.