CHENNAI: A Tamil Nadu Health Department survey has revealed that more than 90 per cent of hospitals in the State, private and government, lack fire safety mechanisms in one form or another. The department had conducted a random survey of 200 hospitals across TN.
Tamil Nadu could be the first state to undertake such a study, which was mandated by the Madras High Court. The exercise is being undertaken following the HC order last September in a case filed by social activist Jawaharlal Shanmugham.
Sources said the report was prepared as per HC directive and state government’s instruction to do a self-assessment of facilities with the assistance of various departments, including Public Works, TN Fire Services, Directorate of Town and Country Planning, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, TN Pollution Control Board and State Electricity Board.
It is learnt that officials of Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine randomly selected 100 hospitals across the state and 100 hospitals in Chennai district. Hospitals across the spectrum, including government, private sector, corporate, non-governmental organisation-run hospitals, nursing homes, dispensaries and healthcare institutions, were inspected. It was found that most hospitals did not have a fire licence, which is a must before getting approval. Most have sought 10 days to one year to implement recommendations put forth by officials such as setting up a disaster management plan, having ramps, installing sprinklers and other fire-fighting equipment.
Shockingly, during the survey of hospitals in Chennai, it was found that fire safety equipment in some hospitals is not in working condition. Similarly, many hospitals haven’t obtained fire audit certificates and are unaware of disaster management plan and patient evacuation plan.
Ramps are also not made available in a majority of hospitals, including those that are reputed ones. In October 2016, the Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services Department filed an affidavit, according to which not a single government hospital in Chennai had fire safety compliance certificate, which is mandated by law.
While many claim it will take another six to eight months for hospitals to have such facilities, sources indicated the government should start work on government hospitals by passing a Government Order mandating ramps and fire safety equipment in all hospitals.
It is learnt that inspection reports of private healthcare facilities have been sent for statistical analysis to the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine after the state government asked joint directors of health services to submit a report before July 6, regarding fire safety and regular preparedness for emergencies in all the private and government hospitals.
The Madras High Court in March had given a three-month deadline to fully implement its order with regard to the provision of ramps and fire-fighting equipment in the hospitals in Tamil Nadu. The High Court later gave a one-month extension on the plea by the state government. The case is likely to be heard on July 20.
Reports sent for analysis
It is learnt that inspection reports of private healthcare facilities have been sent for statistical analysis to the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine after the state government asked joint directors of health services to submit a report before July 6, regarding fire safety and regular preparedness for emergencies in all the private and government hospitals
More than 90% of hospitals do not comply with fire service regulations.
Some hospitals have fire safety equipment, but they are not in working condition.
Hospitals in Chennai have not obtained fire audit certification.
There is lack of patient evacuation plan and disaster management plan during emergencies.
Ramps are not made available in a majority of hospitals.