An internal survey of city civic hospitals conducted by the fire department in wake of the Kolkata hospital blaze that killed 93 people shows that a similar tragedy is waiting to happen in Mumbai, too.
All 16 of them, excluding one which was not inspected, are in gross violation of fire safety norms — ranging from missing or defunct safety equipment, to storage of inflammable material in the basement, which fuelled the AMRI hospital inferno, says the audit report commissioned by the civic body.
Ten of these civic hospitals don’t have fire extinguishers, while others have disregarded structural aspects, which will hinder rescue operations in case of a fire. The three major hospitals — KEM, Sion and Nair — which attract patients from across the country for low-cost treatment, do not have effective fire-safety apparatus. At Nair, the staircases are locked, electric wiring is unsealed, and lifts are out of order. At Sion hospital, the basement is being used for offices and storage of scrap, while KEM hospital's internal firefighting system is not functioning — the booster pumps, riser system and sprinklers do not work.
Thirty-four LPG gas cylinders were found stored in the basement of Bandra’s Bhabha hospital, which does not have any fire extinguishers on its premises.
Safety norms stipulate that the basement should be empty and staircases and fire exists should be free of blockage, while fire safety equipment needs to serviced and upgraded regularly.
The defects have been pointed out to the deans of the hospitals. “They have been asked to take corrective steps immediately,” said additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar.