How to Safeguard Hospitals from the Accidental Fire

Tanmay, a 19 year old boy, called up his father and was screaming for the help, who was admitted to the hospital on the doctor’s recommendation on the same day, with having symptoms of fever. There was a last scream and phone was dead. He was among eight people who died in a harrowing event at Jabalpur Hospital recently.

The fire erupted in the afternoon at New Life Multi-speciality Hospital which came up just last year. There were seven people rescued from the hospital but all were in unconscious state with major burn injuries, those people found in the corridors of the hospital. It appears that when the hospital authorities switched on the generator after power outage, there was a voltage fluctuation which resulted in sparks and caused the fire. According to the authorities, the hospital had applied for a provisional NOC in March 2021.But until December 2021 it had not been installed any static fire fighting installation such as smoke detectors, hose pipes and water tanks. It had only portable fire extinguishers.

Fire can be devastating in hospitals where a large number of people who need to be evacuated may be vulnerable immune compromised, on life support and incapable of moving out on their own. Experts from The Doctorpreneur Academy have given outline of parameters to be measured to look into the fire safety of the hospitals.

Why is fire safety critical in the hospitals?

Fire safety in the hospitals is very important aspects of the hospital architecture and maintenance. However the work done so far to measure these fire safety norms needs urgent attention. Hospital authority should give much importance to this aspect of an internal threat in a health care facility, imparting directly to cause a dent on the patient safety.

A study conducted by doctors of AIIMS, highlighted various aspects of fire safety in the hospitals.The National building code NBC part IV-2016, “fire and life safety”, an accepted Indian standard has been studied various aspects of building design, materials to be used and architectural parameters from the point of view of fire safety.  This code also specifies construction, occupancy and protection features which are necessary to minimize danger to life and property from fire. NBC has also given detailed checklist mentioned below:

  • Name and address of the building
  • Type of occupancy
  • No. of floors
  • Height
  • Area of the largest floor
  • No. of basement
  • Basement area
  • Type of construction
  • No. of beds
  • Interior finish

How does fire occur?

Fire may occur any time as a result of overload wiring, smoking, improper chemical storage and various emergencies. Healthcare providers must recognize and respond to fire risk situations and use caution in protecting client, employees and workers along with hospital property.

Conditions favour the development or growth of fire, like oxygen, fuel and heat. It is usually because of mishandling of fuel and/or heat. It is a chemical reaction between oxygen and fuel. Sources of ignition like spark, flame and high temperature play major roles.

Let Us Understand Hospital Floor Plant for Fire Safety:

Here we have shown fire evacuation floor plan of the hospitals for fire safety. This plan is developed to address hospitals vulnerability to fires. All possible precautions should be taken to reduce the risk of hospital fires and emphasize evacuation’s importance. Hospitals do not catch fire! A hospital fire evacuation plan applies to existing hospitals that can be retrofitted to improve fire safety and proposed or newly built facilities. The primary goal is to avoid evacuating patients unless necessary. As a result, special emphasis should be placed on proper prevention and suppression techniques to prevent this worst-case scenario. That being said, evacuation training and readiness are critical for avoiding and minimizing loss of life.

The design and structure of each hospital should incorporate this kind of evacuation plan. Considering the type and density of the occupancy, it should be sufficiently wide for the easy movement of the traffic at all times. The critical area should be well protected with such extra precautionary measures.

  • Important Fire Safety Measures inthe Hospitals:

The Emergency Management Plan (EMP) should be kept current so that it stands the unexpected occurrence of a fire in a hospital. Here are a few fire safety measures of a hospital that are proven to be effective.       

  •  A Detailed Action Plan:

The fire accidents leave no room for thinking. With a detailed action plan that has answers to all questions and needs will save time for thinking and help you to react instantly in the right way. Involve all the departments of the hospital in the brief of this action plan.

  • Establish the Incident Command Structure:

Communication has vital importance in reducing the damage caused by a fire accident. Establish a functional incident command structure that has groups and subgroups. These groups and subgroups form a tree of communication and follow the instruction of the group leader.

  •  Instructions for a Fire Safety Management Team:

Involving the Fire Safety Management team in the hospital planning and opening the gates of communication with this team well advance will reduce the damage caused by the fire accident. Keep the communication loop always open with the Fire Safety Management team will keep the damage to a minimum.

  •  Fire Safety Evacuation Aids:

Hospital evacuation is a challenging task and the fire safety evacuation aids will help you in this regard. There are many types of evacuation aids available in today’s market. Equip your hospital with evacuation mats and sheet that could hold the patient firmly while sliding to a safer location.

  • Fire Fighting Equipment in Check:

The fire fighting equipment that includes smoke detectors, fire alarms, emergency exit signals, fire extinguishers and other fire fighting equipment should always be in check. Conduct a performance check while doing the fire drills to ensure the responsive in the face of a danger.

  • Mock Drills and Fire Safety Training:

This aspect has vital importance in reducing the damage and saving lives during a fire accident. Ensure all your staff members are undergoing the fire safety training programs and participating in the mock drills. This not only creates a responsive and reliable team in case of a fire but also establishes a safe and secured atmosphere that prevents fire accidents.

With all the oxygen cylinders and electronic equipment, hospitals always carry a high-risk badge for fire accidents. Ensure your whole system is involved in fire prevention by taking measures of fire prevention, ensuring the fire safety equipment is intact and functional, staff that have undergone the fire safety training and are reliable during an emergency.

Conclusion:

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Fire claims lives of numbers of people each year in the hospitals. It also causes disable injuries, property damage and other countless loss every year. By knowing the damage to fire we can prevent fires. This article will definitely help you to eliminate the fire and respond quickly at the time of fire.

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