Eleven of Delhi government’s biggest hospitals do not have clearance from the fire department because they don’t meet safety requirements or their fire-fighting equipment does not work.
GTB hospital has been the worst hit with two fires breaking out over the past six months. The most recent one broke out outside the orthopaedics operation theatre on May 28. Six months ago, a fire broke out in the trauma ICU complex. One of the two emergency operation theatres at the hospital has remained shut ever since that fire.
A visit to the big five of the 11 city hospitals revealed that GTB and Lok Nayak have the worst fire safety arrangements. Dumping of inflammable substances near the operation theatres and OPDs is a common sight in both the hospitals. Exposed and naked wires are fraught with the risk of a short-circuit.
Long queues at the OPDs and overcrowded waiting rooms are a normal sight at GTB, GB Pant, Lok Nayak and Baba Saheb Ambedkar hospitals. A major fire at these hospitals can easily lead to chaos or even stampede.
“The fire safety requirement varies, depending on the height of the hospital, the floors and basement areas. At least 11 hospitals in Delhi have not met the fire safety requirements,” said AK Sharma, director, Delhi Fire Service.
Among the three most common shortcomings are no provisions for fire compartmentation (to divide a structure into fire compartments to limit the spread of fire, smoke and gases), fire pumps have not been installed, and there are no fire-check doors.
“PWD deals with the maintenance of fire safety system in the hospitals. They will look into the shortcomings and send us a report. Only after the requirements are met, can we issue an NOC,” Sharma added.
Just after the fire broke out at GTB Hospital on May 28, Delhi health minister Ashok Kumar Walia had assured that the remaining hospitals would get no-objection certificates by June 10, but they again seemed to have missed the deadline.