Sassoon deaf to all suggestions on safety measures, says Fire brigade

As general hospital thinks of asking fire officials to conduct yet another safety survey and suggest improvements in light of Kolkata's AMRI tragedy, fire brigade complains govt healthcare facility never followed advice after inspections on previous occasions.

After a major fire tragedy at the Advanced Medicare and Research Institute (AMRI) in Kolkata last week resulted in the death of 92 people, the Sassoon General Hospital in the city is thinking of asking the fire brigade to conduct a fresh inspection and suggest safety measures. 

Is it safe? The Sassoon General Hospital sees patients flocking to it 
from all over the district

The fire brigade says it has already conducted two inspections and on both occasions given suggestions on additional safety measures required, but the hospital has failed to act on the advice.  

Also, the 70-year-old hospital building has not had an NOC since inception. Sassoon, which receives a large number of patients from all over the district, has more than 1,500 beds. Now, after the Kolkata tragedy revealed the AMRI administration had ignored safety measures, the Sassoon administration seems to have woken up from its reverie and has decided to have a third inspection of the hospital conducted. 

"We have all necessary fire equipment in the hospital and we will take the help of the fire brigade department and ask it to do a survey of the hospital to advise us on the necessary changes or additions, if any, for the patients' safety," said Medical Superintendent of Sassoon Dr D G Kulkarni. 

Chief Fire Officer Prashant Ranpise said that though his team had already conducted two inspections of Sassoon, with the most recent one having been nearly a year-and-half ago, and suggested necessary additions to safety measures, the hospital authorities had not made the changes. 

"The hospital completed the construction of its old building when the fire brigade department did not even exist. As the hospital got the completion certificate from the then building permission department, it was not obligatory for it to take the NOC from the fire brigade department," said Ranpise.

Question of money
He added that on the earlier occasions when the fire brigade had given its suggestions, the hospital authorities had not incorporated the changes pleading inadequate funding from the government. Kulkarni said when the earlier two inspections were conducted by the fire brigade, he was not the medical superintendent and would not be able to say why the fire safety suggestions were not implemented. 

On the argument put forward by the hospital authorities that as the Sassoon premises were quite large the chances of a disaster like the one at AMRI were almost non-existent, Ranpise reacted sharply by saying that disasters did not happen with a prior notice and that such arguments were not justifiable in any situation. He added that his team was ready to inspect the hospital once again if the Sassoon administration requested it and they would suggest the necessary changes and additions to improve the existing fire safety measures.



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