Mumbai: BMC-run Cooper Hospital to tackle fire with balls

Updated: 18 January, 2018 19:23 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty | Mumbai

mid-day's consistent coverage on the fire safety risks at civic-run hospitals forces BMC to install the Rs 6,000 fireballs at Juhu hospital

The fire extinguisher balls installed inside the hospital
The fire extinguisher balls installed inside the hospital

With fire safety top of mind in the aftermath of the Kamala Mills fire that killed 14 last month, Cooper Hospital in Juhu has become the first civic-run hospital to install extinguisher balls on its premises. This comes after mid-day's audit reports on the poor fire safety conditions at BMC hospitals across Mumbai.

The effectiveness of the fire extinguisher ball, known as Elide Fire, lies in the fact that it automatically explodes as soon as it comes in contact with temperatures over 85 degree Celsius. "It douses flames within a short span of 3 to 10 seconds, and the chemicals inside the ball can cover a range of up to 35 cubic metres," a senior fire official said.

Each ball, which comes in the shape of a football, costs around Rs 6,500 and has an expiry date of five years. Cooper Hospital has procured 93 such balls, and spent around Rs 6 lakh for installation of the fire balls. Other BMC hospitals will follow suit, a civic official said. PM Lokhande, junior engineer at Cooper Hospital said, "With regular fire extin­g­uishers you need some technical knowledge to handle it. The nozzle has to first be pulled, before it is aimed at the fire. These balls are, however, easier to use. You can either throw the ball into the flames, or it will automatically explode once it comes into contact with fire. The dry chemical powder that it releases will also help douse fire faster."

Earlier this month, mid-day's fire safety audit report had revealed that the newly-renovated hospital, which has a bed capacity of 700, and receives over 5,000 outdoor patients on a daily basis, posed great risks to patients and staff. For starters, it lacked basic fire safety and emergency exits. Metal detectors installed at the main entry and exit points had also narrowed down the doorways.

Further, most extinguishers at the hospital were also within the expiry date, and a few that were supposed to have been refilled two months ago, still hadn't been, leaving a large section vulnerable to a blaze with no means to douse it. When contacted, Dr Ganesh Shinde, dean of the hospital, said, "We have ensured that we take all precautionary measures for the safety of our patients and their relatives." He added that the decision to install fire extinguisher balls was taken after a series of trials by the Mumbai Fire Brigade. Henceforth, fire drills will also be organised every week to ensure that the fire devices are usable, he said.

No. of fire extinguisher balls procured by Cooper

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First Published: 18 January, 2018 19:20 IST

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