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7 months after SC order, Delhi govt asks Pvt Covid hospitals to appoint Nodal fire officers

The reports suggest that majority of the incidents occurred in March and April this year when the country descended into the deadly second wave.

Ashish Srivastava | New Delhi |

Seven months after the Supreme Court’s order which concerned the rising incidents of fire in health facilities, the Delhi government has now asked the private hospitals to appoint a nodal officer for fire safety at their premises.

The government has taken seven months to comply with the directions that the top court had ordered on December 18 last year.

“In respect to the direction of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, all private hospitals providing COVID related treatment are directed to appoint/designate a Nodal Officer for fire safety measures, who shall be responsible for ensuring the compliance of all fire safety measures,” Dr RN Das, Medical Superintendent (MS), Nursing Cell, Delhi government, directed the hospitals as seen by The Statesman.

On December 18 last year, the top court had directed all the states to constitute a committee in each district to conduct a fire audit of COVID-19 hospitals at least once a month, inform the management of medical establishments about any deficiency and report to the government for taking follow up action.

It had said that COVID-19 hospitals, which have not obtained a no-objection certificate from the concerned fire department, should be asked to immediately apply for NOC and after carrying necessary inspection, a decision shall be taken in this regard.

The SC had taken a suo moto cognizance of the matter referring to a fire incident in Nashik, Maharashtra, where some nurses and patients were killed last year.

The order stated that the apex court had ordered the states and UT’s to comply with three directions:

A) All States/Union Territories should appoint one nodal officer for each covid hospital who shall be made responsible for ensuring the compliance of all fire safety measures.

B) In each district, State Government should constitute a committee to carry fire audit of each Covid hospital at least once a month.

C) The Covid hospital running without NOC from the fire department of the state should be asked to immediately apply for it. Those Covid hospitals who have not renewed their NOC should immediately take steps for its renewal. Appropriate action is taken by the state if Covid hospitals are found not flouting the direction.

In June alone, two incidents of fire were reported in All India Institute of Medical Sciences while a large fire had broken out in Safdarjung Hospital’s ICU ward where 60 critical patients were getting treatment.

As per the reports, over 90 people, most of them Covid-19 patients, have died in 25 incidents of fire in hospitals in India since last August. While Twelve of them were major fires, 13 were minor ones.

The reports suggest that majority of the incidents occurred in March and April this year when the country descended into the deadly second wave.

Since August 2020, Forty-Three deaths have occurred in Maharashtra and 35 in Gujarat. The latest mortality was reported in Bharuch where 16 patients and two nurses died.