The Ministry of Health and NDMA jointly issue advice to prevent hospital fires in the summer

Representative image (Photo: Bloomberg)

As temperatures rise in summer, the threat of hospital fires increases accordingly. To tackle the problem, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Saturday issued a joint advisory to all states and union territories (UTs) to prevent possible hospital fires during the summer months.

In a joint letter to the chief secretaries of all states and UT administrations, Health Secretary Apurva Chandra and Member and Department Head (HOD), NDMA, Kamal Kishore, emphasized that hospital fires could pose a significant threat in view of rising temperatures.

The Health Secretary urged state health departments and state disaster management authorities to work together to ensure that all accredited hospitals in their jurisdictions promptly conduct thorough inspections and address discrepancies in electrical load audits.

The letter is accompanied by a detailed set of instructions describing the measures that hospitals must take to ensure fire safety. The guidelines include staff training, fire safety drills and routine inspection, maintenance and testing of fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, hydrants and alarms.

“All hospitals must also annually renew valid Fire No Objection Certificates (NOCs) and other compliance requirements of the respective state fire departments,” the joint advisory body said.

The advisory also instructed all hospitals to implement strict no-smoking policies and controls on heat sources in areas with oxygen tanks or oxygen lines. Hospitals must also regularly review and update their infrastructure to meet the latest fire safety standards as set out in the National Building Code, 2016.

Hospitals have been asked to prioritize the recalibration of electrical loads in older buildings before adopting fire safety standards to prevent electrical fires.

The joint advice noted that patient safety and the integrity of healthcare institutions should be of paramount importance. “Hence, all state and UT administrations are urged to conduct follow-up assessments and ensure strict implementation of these critical safety measures,” the report said.

Instructions to prevent fire incidents in healthcare institutions:

– Functional fire fighting systems

– Regular electrical load audits

– Regular maintenance and testing of safety equipment

– Do not smoke near oxygen tanks or oxygen pipes

– Installation of smoke detectors and fire alarms

– Avoid overloading power sources

– Installation of water sprinklers and hoses

– Compliance with the National Building Code

– Obtaining a certificate of no objection to fire safety

– Staff training and regular exercises

– Extensive evacuation plans

First print: March 24, 2024 | 12:09 pm IST