Fire Safety and protection in Hospital
Fire safety & protection is matter of vital importance concerning everyone in the hospital industry. After the grief-stricken incidence of Kolkata question of safety of patients have raised in India. Unawareness of safety measures specially among staff of hospital led to death toll of more than 90 persons including patients as well as staff. Whole incidence turned out as an eye opener for government as well as health care provider.
For fire safety and protection in hospital an intelligent building design is needed to cater to various potential emergency situations to avoid further incidence of same kind. The main objective of fire safety design of buildings should be assurance of life safety, property protection and continuity of operations or functioning. The designer must recognize the type of danger posed by each component and incorporate effective counter-measures in hospital. Fire Protection Engineering has made substantial strides in its professional development and all should be implemented.
Many old hospitals, mostly government hospitals, do not have fire safety equipments like sprinklers. Even the roads inside big hospitals, which should be 6 metres wide, are blocked with parked vehicles. If a fire breaks out, the fire tenders cannot even enter. Therefore norms & codes for building design & fire safety should be followed not only for high rise hospital buildings but also for small set up or nursing homes properly. Fire Codes process is a complex process which integrates many skills, products and techniques into its system. It has been observed that a big hurdle in the way of efficient fire safety measures is the blocked staircase area in most private hospitals across India. The staircase is usually blocked by locked glass doors, meant to restrict the entry of patient’s relatives or other unwanted people; instead of giving priority to safety. This could be resolved by keeping security guard to keep outsider at bay and leaving the staircase open for emergencies.
Hospital engineering service provision for Fire Protection according to NABH:
- Fire fighting installation approval must be obtained
- Location of control room should be easily accessible.
- Control panel & manned, PA equipment should be connected with detection system or fire alarm system.
- Pumps and pump room
- 2 separate pumps i. e .Electric and diesel pump should be available
- Provision of Forced ventilation should be there.
- Arrangement of filling Fire tenders
- 4 way fire inlet must be present in case of emergency
- Proper access for Fire tender to fire tanks
- Fire Drill should be performed
- Yard Hydrants should be available
- Ring main and yard hydrants should be as per strategic locations.
- 2 way fire heads to charge the ring main
- Landing Hydrant & Hose reels
- Wet riser system must be installed
- First aid Fire fighting appliances must be in working conditions
- First aid equipment cabinets
- Provision of Escape routes – escape stair
- Sprinklers system – basement & bldg. above 15 M in height
- Automatic Smoke detectors / heat detectors
- Provision of Fire Alarm System & Fire extinguishers
Regulations as per National Building Code 2005
- All high-rise buildings need to get NOC as per the zoning regulations of their jurisdiction concerned.
- A road which abuts a high rise should be more than 12 metres wide, to facilitate free movement of Fire Services vehicles, specially the Hydraulic Platform and Turn Table Ladder.
- Entrance width and clearance should not be less than 6 metres or 5 metres, respectively.
- Atleast 40 per cent of the occupants should be trained in conducting proper evacuation, operation of systems and equipment and other fire safety provisions in the building, apart from having a designated fire officer at the helm.
- The buildings should have open spaces, as per the Zonal Regulations.
- Minimum of two staircases with one of them on the external walls of the building. They should be enclosed with smoke-stop-swing-doors of two-hour fire resistance on the exit to the lobby.
- Hospitals of high rise buildings are found to be utilising the cellars for generators and transformers, which is strictly prohibited.
- Canteens, OP blocks, dormitories and pathological labs are not allowed in cellars.
- Regular refresher training courses for the fire brigade personnel.
- Recommendation for creating Rural Fire Services in areas which are not at present under any full time Fire Service cover.
- Augmentation of Municipal Hydrant System.
- Adoption of best practices from other city codes like Mumbai Delhi and Hyderabad by State Government for fire safety.
- Clarifying position of CFO and Fire Protection Consultant in approval procedures.
- Recommendation for establishment of Disaster Control Room for cities.
- A passing reference to NBC rules like provision of fire doors, fire separating walls, fire exit & fire lifts should not be overlooked.
Fire safety Measures have 4 Parameters namely means of access through approach roads, open spaces, means of escapes like external Staircases & Fire fighting equipment. Thus provision of all these is necessary from safety point of view within hospital premises. An effective fire program calls for an understanding of the hospital fire plan & the active participation of every employee at all times. Also at least 1 well trained fire officer should be elected at every hospital. There is no better protection against fire than constant vigil to detect fire hazards, prompt action to eliminate in safe conditions & a high degree of preparedness to fight fire.
Everyone should remember that every big fire starts from small one therefore nothing should be considered insignificant within hospital premises. Some hospitals lack trained staff to handle such emergencies therefore frequent mock as well as evacuation drills must be taken. Panic & confusion are the greatest hazards of fire & they can be countered only by sufficient preparedness which should be avoided by means of hospital staff in case of fire emergency. Strong actions like putting board of ‘Fire Unsafe Building’ in front of hospitals, which did not initiate fire safety measures like Fire Department (Hyderabad) should be implemented in other cities & states. The best form of protection from fire is its prevention.