Fire safety audits in health institutions

Fire incidents are happening routinely. Hardly any day passes without there being unfortunate news about blazes, snatching shelter and reducing properties to ashes. Also a few days ago, the Civil Secretariat Jammu reported a fire incident. In this backdrop, the Secretary Health and Medical Education Department chaired a meeting of officers to review fire safety measures put in place in health institutions across Jammu and Kashmir.

The officer rightly maintained that fire incidents are more prone to occur in winter conditions, more so due to over-usage of heating devices.

The officer stresses on conducting fresh mock drills, getting fresh fire audits conducted through Fire and Emergency Department besides addressing the deficiencies identified in the previous fire audits.

Last year, after blazes in several government buildings including traffic police headquarters and police station Kothibagh as well as Bone and Joint hospital Barzulla Srinagar, the Director General, Fire and Emergency Service, was asked by the administration to carry out a fire safety audit of all government buildings.

It had also asked all the concerned Administrative Secretaries to take immediate corrective action in light of the Fire Safety Audit Reports so furnished to them for preventing occurrence of fire incidents in all buildings of their Departments.

It is imperative that all concerned officers put out a checklist to prevent fires and also save people in case such untoward incidents happen. They should ensure that all the fire safety guidelines for hospitals and other buildings issued by the government of India, prioritising a strict compliance strategy, third party accreditation on safety, and adoption of a fire response plan are in place.

Regarding hospitals, Professionals call for ICUs to be equipped with an exhaust system to prevent smoke accumulation, ventilation, cut-outs to prevent a blaze from spreading, periodic maintenance of safety equipment and, very importantly, an evacuation plan for the sickest patients, who may be attached to life-saving equipment. All these needed to be ensured and important within possibly little time to ensure that patients admitted to the facilities remain safe. The safety of people should be of paramount consideration for all the concerned. There is a need to ensure that fire fighting measures are in place at all institutions to provide a safe environment to all including patients and employees or locals visiting them. Every institution needs to have trained dedicated staff to maintain the fire safety standards. Call for fire safety audits in health institutions is a step in the right direction and should be followed by all measures needed to prevent the fire incidents.

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