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The Karnataka State fire department is now ordering a closure of nearly 81 hospitals in the state, of which 51 are in Bengaluru. Earlier, it had issued notices to hospitals in Karnataka for non-compliance with fire safety measures and many have failed to reply. Now, these will be considered as criminal cases for non-compliance.
Hospitals, containing inflammable objects like cylinders, chemicals and other medical supplies, are vulnerable to fire accidents. When a fire breaks out, evacuating patients, many of who are immobile or in different states of ill-health, becomes no less than a nightmare.
Considering this, and in an attempt to make hospital managements aware about fire safety, the state fire and emergency services conducted drives and checks in all the hospitals across the state.
246 high-rise hospitals have been identified across the state for not following safety norms. Initial notices have been issued to 191 hospitals for non-compliance. Further, a final notice has been issued to 156 hospitals in the state and 94 in the city (45 in East and 49 in West Bengaluru), including the ones in the city’s outskirts.
“The final notice was issued to 156 hospitals across the state and only a few have replied that they have taken the required safety measures, while the remaining 81 hospitals including 51 hospitals in the city have not responded. They were given notice for criminal prosecution and also given seven days’ time to get back to us. We will order the closure of these hospitals by this week for non-compliance and file FIRs against them,” Bangalore Mirror quoted Additional Director General of Police (Fire and Emergency Services), Sunil Agarwal, as saying.
He further said that it is important that both internal fire-fighting and external fire-fighting processes work together to extinguish the fire.
He said that internal fire control measures like sprinklers etc. should be activated at the earliest keeping in mind the city’s traffic conditions, fire tenders, even from the nearest station, will take a lot of time to reach the spot. By the time they reach, fire alarms and sprinklers should be activated so that the evacuation process can begin immediately. He said that hospitals should have strong automatic fire alarm systems.
Stating how unfortunate it is that these hospitals are not taking the issue seriously, he said that they would write a letter to BESCOM and ask them to cut the electricity supply to the hospitals which are most non-compliant, and then to the ones which although have some measures in place but have not achieved full compliance.
37 of the 51 hospitals are high-rise buildings, and only a few of them have responded.
“If major hospitals, with roaring business, are slack on fire safety compliance, what do we expect from the smaller ones. Probably, their sense of responsibility towards their patients and their families could make all the difference,” Agarwal said.
The ADGP said that criminal prosecution notice has been served to these hospitals.
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