The state government has decided to carry out fire audits at all hospitals, state-run and private, to check their preparedness in handling an emergency and whether fire fighting measures are in order.
Senior state government officials said the immediate trigger was the fire that killed several patients in a hospital in Maharashtra on Saturday.
At least 11 Covid patients were killed after a fire broke out in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the district civil hospital in Ahmednagar.
State health secretary Narayan Swaroop Nigam has written to principals and medical superintendents of the government medical colleges and hospitals to “conduct fire safety audit immediately at all government hospitals in coordination with PWD and officials of the fire and emergency services department to ensure safety and security of all patients and staff as well as hospital equipments”.
A copy of the letter has been sent to all chief medical officers of health (CMOH) in the districts. A designated assistant superintendent will oversee the exercise for medical colleges and hospitals while a deputy CMOH will be in charge for the audit in each of the health districts of the state.
In a separate note, Niladri Chakraborty, the additional director-general of fire and emergency services, has instructed all senior officials of the department to set up separate teams to carry out fire audits in private hospitals and medical establishments “where ICU and indoor patients are admitted and medically treated”.
“We will begin the fire audits with some of those health institutions that have heavy patient load,” a senior officer of the fire and emergency services department said. “The final audit report will be shared with the two other departments so that everyone is aware of the findings.”
Fire-detection systems in the hospitals will be examined during the audit, evacuation plan will be reviewed and whether life saving measures are in working mode or not will be checked, senior officials of the fire and emergency services department said.
“A no-objection certificate (NOC) is usually issued to private healthcare facilities for a period of three years.
But within this period the private institutions are required to submit a report of their annual fire drills,” the senior official said.
Senior officials in Swasthya Bhavan said based on the audit results, the medical colleges and hospitals would be asked to make necessary changes — if any — in consultation with the engineers from the PWD.