- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- GS-3: Disaster Management
Frequent Hospital Fires in India
Context: As many as 93 people, most of them Covid-19 patients, died in 24 incidents of fire in hospitals in India since August 2020.
More than half these fires occurred in March and April, when rising Covid-19 cases snowballed into a second wave.
Why are these fires taking place regularly, despite the hospitals having passed fire checks and audits?
- Overstressed ICUs, ACs
- Hospitals are increasing beds, equipment and staff to admit more Covid patients, but it has not been possible to immediately expand the electrical wiring system.
- The ventilator, equipment, air conditioners are working 24 x 7 now. ideally air conditioners need to run for 15-16 hours and then need a cooling period. This has put a pressure on the entire system
- Medical equipment or wires carrying current beyond their capacity can overheat leading to fires.
- More inflammable material
- In Gujarat, fire officials have noted that ICUs lack cross-ventilation – this is the case with all ICUs as they are sealed for the purpose of keeping them sterile.
- In addition, due to Covid, there has been an increase of inflammable material in Hospitals – sanitiser spills and vapour, higher oxygen content in the air, and PPE kits, which are made of synthetic materia
- Highly inflammable material such as these spread fire quickly and leave very little time for a response
- A high oxygen percentage and sanitiser fumes in the ICU at times led to a flash fire reducing the time to respond.
- Hospitals must install sprinklers. If temperature rise to 78°C, sprinkler automatically starts dispensing 35 litres per minute. They can become first form of response,
- To further reduce response time, government should give preliminary training to staff in hospitals,
- There is a need to augment deputation of more fire officials in major Covid hospitals
- Regular auditing once a week or two is required in densely populated hospitals
Connecting the dots: