Hyderabad: The staff was not aware of the safety drill and fire extinguisher and hose pipes were not in working order at Shine Hospital where a fire broke out in the neonatal ICU on October 21. There were no smoke detectors and parents and relatives of patients had to use their presence of mind to evacuate their sick children from the hospital.
The short circuit that the fire brigade suspects triggered the fire could be due to power fluctuations. A senior doctor who owns a hospital in Uppal said, on condition of anonymity, “There are power outages and that could also have led to extra load on the electrical systems resulting in the short circuit.”
The presence of fire safety equipment but its non-functioning raises issues of whether annual checks are carried out. The fire safety department does not carry out checks of buildings that are less than 15 metres high. A government order issued in 2016 exempted these buildings from the fire department’s purview and they have to be checked by the disaster management wing of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
Dr Narender Reddy, joint secretary of Telangana Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association, says, "Regular checking of fire equipment is not
done. The fire department does not have to carry out checks of these (below 15 m) buildings. Fire certificates are taken out by the small hospitals too as it is a requirement and also a standard of safety. Maintaining it is the duty of the hospital."
With more than 1000 small hospitals in the city, is their equipment well maintained? No, says the founder of the Nursing Officers’ Association Laxman Rudavath.
He says, “80 per cent of hospitals have put in the equipment but whether it is working is a big question. The officials inspect when there is an incident and after that forget about it. They have to annually check and ensure that the protocols are followed but that is not happening.”
The disaster management wing of the GHMC has issued notice to Shine Hospital and there are rumours that checking of some 500 hospitals in the city will be carried out.
A senior doctor who owns a hospital said hospitals that have come up around the periphery of the GHMC must be checked. Officials often check hospitals that have systems in place and submit a report “which is of no use.”...