COVID-19: Hyderabad hospitals lack fire safety measures

Hyderabad: More than 1,400 to 1,500 private and government hospitals and nursing homes in Greater Hyderabad limits are sitting on a flash point as there are no proper fire safety measures in place.

According to officials, majority of the hospitals lack fire safety measures as there is no periodical check on them by the Fire Department and Directorate of Enforcement Vigilance and Disaster Management, a wing under GHMC.

With the majority of these hospitals treating COVID-19 patients and with a large number of patients admitted in the hospitals any small incident can cause a major catastrophe.

To avoid any kind of fire accidents the State government has asked officials to take strict measures.

Many states including Gujarat and Maharashtra have reported fire accidents leading to huge loss of lives of COVID-19 patients. Having realized the need to ensure Hospitals in Hyderabad are safe, Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao has issued directions few weeks ago to review the status of the fire safety measures at government and private hospitals.

The Chief Minister has expressed concern and has directed the Telangana Health Department officials to take steps to ensure there are no fire accidents. He has directed the officials to assign fire engines at government COVID-19 hospitals including the Gandhi and Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS)Hospital at Gachibowli.

Unfortunately, many of the Government and private hospitals do not have fire safety measures.

The 1,618 hospitals under Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits include 268 hospitals in Secunderabad zone, Charminar zone consists of 248 hospitals, L.B. Nagar zone consists of 461 hospitals Khairatabad zone consists of 316 hospitals, Kukatpally zone has 34 and Serlingampally consists of 291 hospitals.

A few hospitals which installed fire safety equipment a few years ago have become defunct as hose reels, fire hydrant systems, sprinkler system and fire extinguishers were missing.

The Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MAUD) department two years back had instructed the GHMC to conduct an audit of fire safety measures in hospitals, nursing homes and to slap notices on the erring hospitals but there was no headway to check the safety assessments of all these hospitals.

MAUD officials at that time observed lacunae in compliance to fire safety standards by different commercial buildings like hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants, hotels and function halls etc and felt that there is a need for the GHMC to get vulnerability analysis done of all densely populated, important and hazardous buildings in the city, besides assessing the equipment and manpower requirement to avoid accidents and handle rescue works effectively in case of any mishaps. They also wanted a comprehensive screening to be done in all cases and vulnerable buildings need to be accounted for.