After the deaths of 10 newborns at a general hospital in Bhandara district on last Saturday, it came to light that the Commissioner of Health Services on December 21, 2020 had asked all government hospitals both old and new to conduct fire safety audit on a priority basis.
Subsequently, the commissioner on January 9 this year asked all hospitals to strictly follow fire safety guidelines under the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006. It was mandatory for all hospitals to deploy fire prevention gadgets, install fire alarms and provide training to the staff for handling the emergency.
Hospitals are expected to install fire extinguishers and carry out repairs of damaged or non-functional extinguishers. They should conduct fire mock drills regularly with the help of civic fire brigade personnel. Hospitals were asked to review fire accidents that took place in the last five years and prepare details relating to safety measures taken by them.
Hospitals are expected to conduct training of its staff to tackle fire.
The death of 10 infants had exposed laxity in Bhandara district general’s fire management system and procedural and administrative apathy in clearing funds for its upgradation since the last two years. Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope told Free Press Journal, “Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar have announced a fire safety audit of all government hospitals.
“The Commissioner of Health Services even before the Bhandara incident happened had issued circulars asking all hospitals to conduct a fire safety audit. It is true that even though hospitals prepare a proposal it is cleared by the Public Works Department under whose jurisdiction these hospitals come. The Public Health Department wants that the decision making process needs to be expedited so that delays can be avoided,” said Tope.
Tope said that 15 per cent hospital buildings coming under the Public Health Department’s ambit should be given a nod for making suitable changes so that fire and other such incidents can be tackled effectively.