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Frequent Hospital Fires in India

  • IASbaba
  • May 5, 2021
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • 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?

  1. 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.
  1. 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.

Way Ahead

  • 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:

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