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MHA asks states, UTs to conduct fire safety review of hospitals, nursing homes

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New Delhi: The Home Ministry has asked states and union territories to conduct a detailed review of fire safety mechanisms at hospitals and nursing homes, a move that follows several instances of fires at healthcare facilities in various parts of the country, a spokesperson said on Wednesday,

Taking note of the incidents at a time the healthcare system is battling the Covid pandemic, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has written to state chief secretaries and UT administrators to draw their attention to the fires caused by short-circuits in hospitals and nursing homes.

Over a dozen fire incidents, claiming several lives, have been reported in the last two months, particularly from Maharashtra and Gujarat.

The recent fire incidents indicate lack of maintenance or a high load on internal wirings within the facilities, leading to short-circuits and loss of life and damage to essential infrastructure, the Home secretary said.

Bhalla said care should be taken to put in place a plan of action to ensure no fire incident occurs in any health facility (particularly COVID-19 dedicated facilities) both in the government and the private sector.

“The States and UTs have been requested to conduct a detailed review with officials from the Health, Power and Fire Departments, and prepare a detailed plan of action to ensure that fire safety measures are in place in all hospitals and health facilities,” a Home ministry spokesperson said, quoting from the letter. The states and UTs have also been asked to issue directions to concerned officials at various levels. Heath facilities should be visited by field level officials to examine internal wirings and availability of functional safety equipment in accordance with fire safety guidelines within these facilities, and necessary remedial action be taken immediately in case any deficiencies are found, the ministry said.

The communication points out that a large number of COVID-19 cases are under treatment in Covid-dedicated health facilities across the country. In most cases, oxygen supported beds, ICU beds, and ventilators are critical interventions, and therefore, it is important to ensure there is uninterrupted power supply 24×7 in all hospitals and medical facilities.

It also draws attention to a recent advisory from the Director General (Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards), MHA, on fire safety in hospitals and nursing homes. The communication further emphasises that saving every life is a priority, and it is critical to ensure that required support is provided to all health facilities managing COVID-19 by taking requisite actions in advance to avert any incident, which could hamper effective healthcare delivery to patients.

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