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Priyanka Vora and Vaishnavi Vasudevan, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, November 08, 2013
The blaze at a Mulund nursing home on Thursday which claimed the life of a resident doctor has brought the focus back on the fire-safety norms being adhered to at the private hospitals and clinics in the city. After the major fire at AMRI hospital in 2011, and following a Supreme Court order making it mandatory for clinics in residential premises to have separate staircases, smoke detection systems and fire extinguishers, the civic body had at first taken the stringent step requiring private medical facilities to get their premises inspected by the fire department every year.

However, it later diluted the provision and asked the clinics to submit an affidavit stating they have adhered to all the norms.

“Initially, we had asked every registered nursing home to obtain a no-objection certificate from the fire department while applying for licence renewal. But the nursing home representatives met us and it was worked out that they can submit an affidavit declaring they are following all the fire-safety norms,” said Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner.

As per the Bombay Nursing Home Act, private hospitals are expected to register with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, and the registration is to be renewed every year.

Nursing home owners said the BMC has circulated a standard form of norms they are expected to fulfill.

“By submitting an affidavit, we are becoming completely responsible for any fire mishap occurring in our premises. While a few members were against it, many agreed as they would lose their registration while waiting for the inspections and compliance to take place,” said Dr BT Shah, president of Bombay Nursing Home Association.

“There could be hospitals which might submit an affidavit without completely, or partially complying with the norms. Hence, it would be more appropriate that the fire department checks the hospitals for compliance,” said a senior doctor who runs a nursing home since 40 years.

In the past seven months, the civic body has served notices to 26 hospitals for flouting fire-safety norms.

“All the hospitals complied with the corrective steps after the notices,” said Mhaiskar.

According to the fire department, there are about 50 private hospitals and over 1,800 nursing homes in the city.