Firefighting Preparations-3

Need to replace old, worn-out equipment in Amritsar hospitals

Presence of a large number of combustible gases and chemicals makes them vulnerable to fire incidents

Need to replace old, worn-out equipment in Amritsar hospitals

A defunct fire safety equipment at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital in Amritsar. Photo: Vishal Kumar

Tribune News Service

Manmeet Singh Gill

Amritsar, May 22

Though the recent fire at Government Medical College earlier this month was controlled before it could cause any loss of life or major damage to the hospital property, the fact still remains that the firefighting equipment installed at government hospitals, especially in old buildings are worn-out fire safety equipment.

A mere look at the water hoses, pipes, alarm systems and other instruments installed at most of the government hospitals is enough to suggest that these buildings are ill-equipped to deal with a major fire.

Narrow roads add to woes

  • A major hurdle in dealing with fire at private hospitals, mostly located in residential and crowded areas, is the time consumed by fire tenders to reach the place
  • In inner city areas, where even a two-wheeler rider finds it difficult to navigate through the haphazard parking and traffic chaos, the chances of a fire tender reaching the place in time are negligible
  • A mere look at water hoses, pipes, alarm systems and other instruments installed at most of the government hospitals is enough to suggest that these buildings are ill-equipped to deal with a major fire

While no efforts have been made to upgrade the firefighting system and to replace the worn-out systems over the years, the hospitals due to presence of large number of combustible substances are vulnerable to fire accidents. Apart from gases such as oxygen and others used at hospitals, the laboratories and operation theatres use a large number of chemicals which are highly combustible and could easily turn a minor spark into a major fire.

As per law, all buildings are required to follow fire safety measures listed in Chapter 4 of the National Buildings Code. Hospitals need to have fire hydrants, which are attached to fire engines for refilling water tanks on the spot so that time could be saved. It is also must for hospitals to train their staff in using basic fire safety equipment installed at the buildings. —Lovepreet Singh, ADFO

Furthermore as patients at the hospitals, in most cases are unable to move on their own, the chances of loss of life during fire incidents are much higher. A visit to the Government Medical College, Jallianwala Bagh Martyrs’ Memorial Civil Hospital and Employees State Insurance Hospital; the three major public hospitals in city, reveals that the situation is almost similar and the only difference is of degree of ill preparedness.

In the private sector, too, all is not well even as the fire wing of the Municipal Corporation makes regular checks and issues mandatory fire safety certificates only after its satisfaction. The major hurdle in dealing with fire at private hospitals, mostly located in residential and crowded areas, is the time consumed by fire tenders to reach the place.

In inner city areas, where even a two-wheeler rider finds it difficult to navigate through the haphazard parking and traffic chaos, the chances of a fire tender reaching the place in time are negligible.

Officials of the fire wing department, which is responsible for issuing fire safety certificates to private hospitals, however claimed that these are better equipped to deal with any fire accident in comparison to what they were a few years ago. They claimed that repeated checks are made at these hospitals to ensure that they show no laxity and are amply equipped with fire safety equipment.

Tribune Shorts


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