The question of fire safety at city hospitals has surfaced once again after a fire struck at Medipoint Hospital on Saturday morning. Despite orders to have an appropriate system in place, only 150 city hospitals out of 648 have acquired the Fire No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
Though Medipoint Hospital had a fire-fighting system in place, it lacked back-up power, which is why the fire could not be controlled.
“Though the hospital had installed wet riser-cum-down comer, an arrangement for fire-fighting on its premises, due to lack of electricity the water pump could not work and the system fell flat. They had no provisions for battery back-up, which is indispensable. They tried to extinguish the fire with the help of fire extinguishers, but to no avail,” said Aundh Assistant Divisional Fire Officer D N Nagalkar.
Dr S T Pardeshi, PMC’s chief medical officer, said: “We had done a fire audit six months ago after the massive fire at Kolkata’s AMRI Hospital and told officials of all major hospital buildings with structural height of 15 metres and above to have a fire fighting system in place.”
He added that till now around 150 hospitals, including all major private hospitals, have been given NOC, but PMC and state-run hospitals do not have adequate fire fighting systems except the newly constructed Kamla Nehru Hospital.
With the number of patients visiting government hospitals being far more than those visiting private hospitals, the risk is greater at the public hospitals and better safety arrangements are required.
Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak said it was practically unfeasible to install fire-fighting systems in old buildings, and some government hospitals like Sassoon General Hospital were almost a century old.
He added that the Fire NOC is only meant for newly constructed buildings as the new norms cannot be implied on the older ones.
Chief fire officer Prashant Ranpise said, “Nothing is impossible with the advent of new technologies. We have even explained to Sassoon General Hospital officials that water pipelines can be fitted by cutting into the walls between the stairs.
Sprinklers can be attached to each floor and water will be supplied to these sprinklers through the pipeline. The officials have accepted the suggestion and are planning to go ahead.”