Important Points for Fire Safety in Hospitals

      An overstressed  hospital system unable to bear the rising patient load is an important factor for the frequent fire incidents.  Overstressed ICUs, ACs, lot of oxygen flowing, other combustible chemicals, gases, and electrical equipment all around make hospitals a dangerous place for the incidents of fire.  

    Last year Hospitals increased beds, equipment and staff to admit more Covid patients, but it is not possible to immediately expand the electrical wiring system. Medical equipment or wires carrying current beyond their capacity can overheat. That is what is happening in many hospitals. Besides looking at fire

audit, an electrical audit is also needed.

      Fire prevention and safety  is a matter of vital importance concerning everyone in the hospital industry. After another incident in Delhi, have further raised the concerns about safety of patients in hospitals.  Unawareness of safety measures especially among staff of hospital can increase death toll  among patients as well as health care workers. Such incidents happening frequently have become  an eye opener for government, health administrators as well as health care providers.
NABH and Fire Safety
For fire prevention and safety in hospital, certain modifications in  building design are required to deal with  various potential emergency situations to avoid further incident and damage. The main objective of fire safety design of buildings should be assurance of life safety, property protection and continuity of operations or functioning.

120 patients died due to hospital fires since April 2020
     Even the roads inside big hospitals, which should be 6 metres wide, are blocked with parked vehicles. If a fire breaks out, the fire tenders cannot even enter. Therefore norms & codes for building design & fire safety should be followed not only for high rise hospital buildings but also for small set up or nursing homes properly. Fire Codes process is a complex process which integrates many skills, products and techniques into its system.
Hospital engineering service provision for Fire Protection according to NABH:

1. Fire fighting installation approval must be obtained
2. Location of control room should be easily accessible.
3. Control panel & manned, PA equipment should be connected with detection system or fire alarm system.
4. Pumps and pump room
5. 2 separate pumps i. e .Electric and diesel pump should be available
6. Provision of Forced ventilation should be there.
7. Arrangement of filling Fire tenders
8. 4 way fire inlet must be present in case of emergency
9. Proper access for Fire tender to fire tanks
10. Fire Drill should be performed
11. Yard Hydrants should be available
12. Ring main and yard hydrants should be as per strategic locations.
13. 2 way fire heads to charge the ring main
14. Landing Hydrant & Hose reels
15. Wet riser system must be installed
16. First aid Fire fighting appliances must be in working conditions
17. First aid equipment cabinets
18. Provision of Escape routes – escape stairs
19. Sprinklers system – basement & bldg. above 15 M in height
20. Automatic Smoke detectors / heat detectors
21. Provision of Fire Alarm System & Fire extinguishers
Regulations as per National Building Code 2005 : 

1. All high-rise buildings need to get NOC as per the zoning regulations of their jurisdiction concerned. 
2. A road which abuts a high rise should be more than 12 metres wide, to facilitate free movement of Fire Services vehicles, especially the Hydraulic Platform and Turn Table Ladder.
3.Entrance width and clearance should not be less than 6 metres or 5 metres, respectively.
4. At least 40 per cent of the occupants should be trained in conducting proper evacuation, operation of systems and equipment and other fire safety provisions in the building, apart from having a designated fire officer at the helm.
5. The buildings should have open spaces, as per the Zonal Regulations.
6. Minimum of two staircases with one of them on the external walls of the building. They should be enclosed with smoke-stop-swing-doors of two-hour fire resistance on the exit to the lobby.

General Recommendations:

1. Hospitals of high rise buildings are found to be utilising the cellars for generators and transformers, which is strictly prohibited. 
2. Canteens, OP blocks, dormitories and pathological labs are not allowed in cellars.
3. Regular refresher training courses for the fire brigade personnel.
4. Recommendation for creating Rural Fire Services in areas which are not at present under any full time Fire Service cover.
5. Augmentation of Municipal Hydrant System.
6. Adoption of best practices from other city codes like Mumbai Delhi and Hyderabad by State Government for fire safety.
7. Clarifying position of CFO and Fire Protection Consultant in approval procedures.
8.  Recommendation for establishment of Disaster Control Room for cities.
9. A passing reference to NBC rules like provision of fire doors, fire separating walls, fire exit & fire lifts should not be overlooked. 

Fire safety Measures have 4 Parameters namely means of access through approach roads, open spaces, means of escapes like external Staircases & Fire fighting equipment. Thus provision of all these is necessary from safety point of view within hospital premises. An effective fire program calls for an understanding of the hospital fire plan & the active participation of every employee at all times. Also at least 1 well trained fire officer should be elected at every hospital. There is no better protection against fire than constant vigil to detect fire hazards, prompt action to eliminate in safe conditions & a high degree of preparedness to fight fire.

Everyone should remember that every big fire starts from small one therefore nothing should be considered insignificant within hospital premises. Some hospitals lack trained staff to handle such emergencies therefore frequent mock as well as evacuation drills must be taken. Panic & confusion are the greatest hazards of fire & they can be countered only by sufficient preparedness which should be avoided by means of hospital staff in case of fire emergency.

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