Key commandments of fire safety practices to follow while constructing hospitals

Express brings an expert's opinion on what has to be done for fire safety and the practices during construction of hospitals keeping fire safety as high priority. 

Published: 24th October 2016 10:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th October 2016 12:40 PM   |  A+A-


An already expired fire extinguisher in Royapettah hospital, Chennai. (Ashwin Prasath | EPS)

By Express News Service

Express brings an expert's opinion on what has to be done for fire safety and the practices during construction of hospitals keeping fire safety as high priority. 

R Natraj, MLA and ex-DGP who headed the TN Fire and Rescue Services Department, shares his expertise on the key points to be considered

  • Evacuation drills in addition to mandatory ones as a part of the licensing process to familiarise occupants with emergency routes.
  • Fire and safety audit of buildings and drills to check if staircases are free from junk, if the 7-m gap between the building and wall is free of obstructions and if there is any change in electrical load due to new connections.
  • Before fire tenders reach, police should control crowd, as smoke and stampede often cause more casualties.
  • In case of fire in high-rise buildings, video clippings could be sent to fire tenders so they’ll know exactly where to go.
  • One or two persons per 100 population should be identified as fire and safety officer, trained essential Equipment.
  • Motorcycle or 6,000 litre tankers as a first line of defence on narrow streets.
  • Water ejection equipment capable of spraying water or foam.
  • Mobile, fixed smoke suction devices; concrete, laser cutters.
  • Green Corridor for fire tenders to achieve ‘Zero Response Time’ target.
  • Uninterrupted flyovers instead of creating one by blocking traffic.

Fire safety needs to consider while in construction of hospitals

  • Fire safety works differently for hospitals, explains fire safety consultant V Sivaramakrishnan.
  • When fire safety practices are prescribed for hospitals, number of beds, operation theatres, scanning machines, basements, electrical installations and stairs have to be considered.
  • Oxygen and nitrogen are both flammable and can cause an explosion. They are circulated through pipes and must compulsorily be linked with fire and smoke detection system.
  • Rooms in which medicines are stored need separate protection as chemicals are inflammable.
  • Minimum gap of 10 ft needed between building and compound wall to facilitate fire tenders.
  • Hospitals have a deadly disregard for how they use their basements. Many use them to erect electronic or electrical installations such as back-up generators. An outbreak in the basement can be disastrous. It could trigger an explosion, causing the entire building to collapse.
  • Staircases, fire exits shouldn’t be used for storage. Hospitals clutter exit passages with temporary structures.
  • Oxygen, gas cylinders must be stored in speciali-sed spaces, not under staircases, and must be protected from heat.
  • While A, B and C types are used in homes and offices, clean-agent extingui-shers are preferred as they are less hazardous to pulmonary patients.
  • A fire can burn only if oxygen concentration is over 12%. Suppression systems that can bring oxygen to 7-8% for at least 10 minutes should be installed to prevent combustion.


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