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.