Srinagar Dec 08: Putting the lives of hundreds of patients at risk, several tertiary care hospitals in Srinagar lack the adequate and necessary firefighting mechanism while in some hospitals exit routes have been closed.
Health officials have highlighted that, despite some mechanisms in certain hospitals, most lack adequate fire-fighting measures. They emphasized the urgent need for enhanced fire safety measures in healthcare facilities across the region.
Two years ago, the government conducted a Fire Safety Audit of the affiliated hospitals of Government Medical College, Srinagar. The findings exposed the vulnerability of the maternity hospital Lal Ded and Chest Disease Hospital, having poor safety measures.
Owing to the inadequacy of fire-fighting measures, officials have expressed concerns that patients are at high risk, rendering them vulnerable to potentially disastrous situations.
The other associated hospitals, especially those in Srinagar, which serve as main referral institutions, are not ready to face any disastrous situation.
The officials of Fire and Emergency Services, Kashmir also said most hospitals in districts are also lacking fire fighting measures which need improvement.
“There are also no smoke barriers in the hospitals which could prevent the spread of fire. It is not fire which kills people it is smoke,” they said.
The officials said the service lines like water and electricity in the hospitals have openings (holes) on walls and if these are not sealed the fire could extend to other floors easily.
Officials said most of the pipes used in the hospital buildings are plastic which break quickly and if there are concrete buildings, iron pipes must be used.
They suggested that the central heating system needs to be segregated to prevent any damage during the fire incidents and there should be fire check doors which are hardly in place.
In the past, Lal Ded, Bone and Joint Hospital, and SMHS hospitals experienced fire incidents due to the lack of proper safety measures.
Principal Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar, Prof. Masood Tanvir said that they had already done a mock exercise and fire audit has been conducted in all the associated hospitals. “Whatever the protocol is needed that is in place,” he said.
Notably, many private hospitals are also not following the guidelines issued by the Fire and Emergency Department and there are hardly any checks on it.
The Assistant Director of the F&ES Department in Srinagar mentioned that most hospitals, including SKIMS Soura, Shireen Bagh, Dental College, and JLNM Hospital, have undergone fire audits.
These institutions have implemented fire-fighting measures and established dedicated teams to promptly manage initial fire incidents. “The manpower in these hospitals has been trained to tackle the fire incidents,” he said.
The AD said fire fighting measures of hospitals should be maintained and should be looked after very well so that the hospital is able make use of it when the fire incidents occur.