Small hospitals in Delhi face closure over stricter fire-safety norms

Updated on Apr 17, 2019 05:40 AM IST

The fire safety norms were changed after a hotel fire in Karol Bagh killed 17 people in February. The new norms make it mandatory for all multi-storey buildings above the height of 9 metres (two storeys) to get a fire clearance, instead of the earlier limit of 15 metres (three storeys).

Hospitals and nursing homes that have applied for renewal of licenses and don’t meet the requirements are being denied fire clearances.(HT Photo)
Hospitals and nursing homes that have applied for renewal of licenses and don’t meet the requirements are being denied fire clearances.(HT Photo)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Small hospitals and nursing homes, especially those in residential areas, face the risk of being shut following a change in fire safety norms. The new norms make it mandatory for all two-floor building to get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Delhi Fire Services(DFS).

There are 1,478 registered hospitals, nursing homes, maternity homes and health sub-centres in Delhi (NCT), according to government data. Only 103 of these institutes have a clearance certificate from the fire department, according to a letter sent by the Delhi Fire Service to the Director General of Health Services(DGHS).

DGHS is responsible for renewing licenses of the hospitals and nursing homes.

The fire safety norms were changed after a hotel fire in Karol Bagh killed 17 people in February. The new norms make it mandatory for all multi-storey buildings above the height of 9 metres (two storeys) to get a fire clearance, instead of the earlier limit of 15 metres (three storeys).

The norms make it mandatory for these institutes that are two-storeys tall or higher to have a 6 metres wide access road for fire tenders. They also need to have at least 2.4 metres wide corridors and 2 metres wide staircases.

“The implementation is difficult because close to 70% of all nursing home and hospitals, especially those that operate out of residential areas , do not have the space for expansion,” Dr Girish Tyagi, president-elect, Delhi Medical Association (DMA), said.

Hospitals and nursing homes that have applied for renewal of licenses and don’t meet the requirements are being denied fire clearances. “Several nursing homes whose licences came up for renewal are finding it difficult to make the changes. They are willing to get sprinklers and hoses installed, but they can’t change the entire structure?” Tyagi said.

Delhi government officials recognise the challenges. “Some of the changes are impossible to implement in an old structure. We are still examining what we need to do and how can it be implemented,” a Delhi government official said on the condition of anonymity.

The DFS, however, said the new norms should not make a difference as hospitals are institutional buildings that need fire clearance irrespective of the height.“The fire risk of a building is assessed based on the structure and number of occupants. However, hospitals should be getting the clearances, anyway ,as they are categorised as institutional buildings and they need fire clearance,” Vipin Kental, director, DFS, said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anonna Dutt is a health reporter at Hindustan Times. She reports on Delhi government’s health policies, hospitals in Delhi, and health-related feature stories.

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