Apart from the city’s major hospitals, even private nursing homes could be vulnerable to a fire as majority of them are located in residential buildings, said fire experts.
The death of 93 people in the inferno at Kolkata’s AMRI hospital on December 9 has raised a red flag for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which has directed the Mumbai fire brigade to inspect major hospitals in the city to ensure they are complying with the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Safety Act.
The fire brigade will inspect 37 private hospitals, 13 state-run and 17 civic hospitals with more than 100 beds over the next 15 days. “We need to inspect even small nursing homes as majority are located in residential buildings,” said a senior fire official on condition of anonymity. The city has around 1,500 nursing homes.
“More than 50% of nursing homes don’t have separate entrance or staircases, have small rooms which are air-conditioned and suffer from poor ventilation. They also do not have proper fire safety equipment, which could be disastrous in case of a fire,” the official added.
Pramaud Rao, president of the Fire Safety Association of India said there should be stringent checks on nursing homes. “The licence of erring nursing homes should be cancelled.” Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner said, “First, we will inspect all major hospitals and check nursing homes thereafter.”
Private practitioners, however, are unhappy with idea of being under the scanner. Dr Jeevraj Shah, who has been practicing since 47 years said, “Most nursing homes take proper precautions as they own and run the clinic. Hence, there isn’t any need for fire audits at nursing homes.”