Ill-maintained UPS unit sparked fire at Sassoon

Jan 11, 2013, 07:47 IST | Anup Satphale

Dean, medical superintendent claim Wednesday's incident at Cathlab was minor short circuit; firemen at the spot call say a major was fire averted

The cause behind the switchboard connected to the Uninterrupted Power Supply unit catching fire in the Cathlab department of Sassoon General Hospital on Wednesday afternoon has been narrowed down lack of maintenance leading the batteries to short. The fire gutted the switchboard and batteries of the UPS unit, and timely intervention by the fire brigade averted a major blaze. However, Sassoon Hospital administration claims there was no fire, but a mere short circuit.

“The batteries and switchboard caught fire, but it was not major. We extinguished the fire with a small extinguisher at the hospital, but it could have spread if it had not been extinguished in time,” said a fireman on condition of anonymity.

Just in time: The Cardiac and Vascular Cathlab in Sassoon General Hospital, where the UPS unit shorted out and sparked a fire, which firemen say could have been worse. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

Fireman Sunil Nersingh from Naidu Fire Station said, “We extinguished the fire with a small extinguisher. We also used an exhaust blower to remove smoke from the room.”

The fire brigade received a call around 3.51 pm and a fire engine was dispatched to the spot immediately. According to hospital staff, there were no patients in the Cathlab at the time of the incident, but a few staff members were inside. “It’s just a short circuit not a fire. Smoke started emanating from the UPS batteries, but nothing major happened. The room  was closed and that’s why smoke accumulated,” said DG Kulkarni, medical superintendent.

When asked, Sassoon General Hospital Dean, Ajay Chandanwale, gestured in Kulkarni’s direction and refused to comment. A source from the hospital said the annual maintenance contract for the UPS unit had not been outsourced. The batteries were ill-maintained and therefore expanded and shorted, thereby causing a fire. When the company that was called to rectify the damages was questioned, a spokesperson said, “I think no annual maintenance contract had been given to any company. Lack of maintenance can cause such incidents.”  When asked whether the unit was under any maintenance contract, Kulkarni said, “I am not aware about any contract.”  

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