Fire safety not a priority for private hospitals in Jalandhar district: La Tribune India

Aparna Banerji

Tribune press service

Jalandhar, November 18

The district has 800 private hospitals and is known as Asia’s largest health insurance center, but fire safety arrangements at most health facilities have not been verified for ages.

In addition, the majority of hospitals in Jalandhar District do not have designated fire safety officers despite the 2020 Supreme Court guidelines calling for a nodal officer for each facility.

The exact number of hospitals in the district that have received notices of compliance will be clear once we receive the lists. Instructions have been given to hospitals to obtain fire safety audits. Jaswant Singh, Assistant Division Fire Officer, Jalandhar

In view of recent fires in medical facilities in various parts of the country, instructions for fire safety audits have recently been issued to hospitals. A nodal officer also asked hospitals to review their fire safety arrangements. Ghashyam Thori, Deputy Commissioner, Jalandhar

Lack of space, including that for vehicle parking, is a problem faced by most hospitals, but many have found shortcut solutions for the same.

In some establishments, underground parking is next to the laboratories. Sensitive services are housed in numerous commercial basements closed on all sides.

A few recently renovated hospitals have state-of-the-art facilities and sprinklers to extinguish the flames. Many hospitals have towering, dangerous buildings with some floors marked by a network of sturdy cables and wires for complex medical equipment.

Even hospitals with proper fire safety equipment do not conduct regular mock drills or perform maintenance. This increases the chances of equipment malfunctioning when the need arises.

Sources from the fire and health services told The Tribune that politicians and key officials sometimes called when large hospitals were denied NOCs (No Objection Certificates). “‘Sifarish culture’ is a habit for a hospital to obtain an NOC despite inadequate firefighting arrangements,” the sources added.

Many hospitals also have PROs, security personnel, or even clerks or accountants who are also fire safety personnel. Most of them are not trained in fire safety protocol.

The city’s two private hospitals, Vedanta Hospital and Sigma Hospital, which The Tribune visited, had basic fire safety arrangements.

The parking lot in the basement of the Vedanta Hospital, which also houses a laboratory, had three oxygen cylinders while all floors had two or more, with the exception of the downstairs OPD, who only had one.

In addition, an oxygen cylinder is stored outside the gallery of the Vedanta Hospital. There is a fire extinguisher in the oxygen storage area of ​​the hospital. Meanwhile, the upper floors of the hospital have two or more fire extinguishers. The hospital, however, does not have hydrants.

Meanwhile, at Sigma Hospital, which also specializes in pediatrics and childcare, fire hoses are installed on each floor. The fire extinguishing cylinders at the hospital were valid until this month (November). Almost all of the cylinders, except a few, had an expiration date of November 2021. With the exception of the crowded ground floor of the hospital, which also houses the neonatal care unit, it there is a network of pipes, wires, etc. in some sections. The two upper floors of the hospital are better ventilated.

Vedanta hospital authorities also shared the NOC with The Tribune, which was recently renewed.

Divisional Assistant Fire Officer Jalandhar Jaswant Singh said: “The exact number of hospitals in the district that have received notices of compliance will be clear once we receive the lists. Instructions have been given to hospitals to obtain fire safety audits. “

“Only 15-20% of large hospitals in Jalandhar have state-of-the-art automatic sprinkler systems. The rest of the hospitals only have basic fire safety provisions. However, most hospitals are adept at dealing with the demands of fire. Basements are also used in many hospitals where sprinkler systems have been installed, ”he added.

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