The outbreak of a fire in a West Delhi hospital yesterday served as a reminder of one of the major issues putting patients’ lives at risk: fire safety lapses.
The incident in question, which occurred at the Employees’ State Insurance Model Hospital in Basai Darapur, mercifully was not at the level of past tragedies involving hospital blazes in India. No casualties have been reported at the time of writing and six patients were evacuated. The fire broke out in an operating theatre on the hospital’s third floor and was contained within five minutes by responders from the Delhi Fire Services. At the time of writing, the cause has yet to be determined.
Hospital stays in India carry no end of risks, from infections to shortages of vital equipment. Fires are one such hazard, endangering hospital workers and patients alike. As previously reported by Health Issues India, fire safety lapses have been highlighted in hospitals in both Karnataka and Odisha in recent months. Delhi is no exception to this worrying trend.
Earlier this year, the Delhi Fire Services notified the Director General of Health Services that, of the 1,478 registered hospitals, health sub-centres, maternity homes, and nursing homes, a mere 103 operate with fire services. Many face challenges adhering to new fire safety guidelines given the age of the buildings in question. Nonetheless, those without fire safety clearances were being denied license renewals. The increased scrutiny followed a fire at the Hotel Arpit Palace in central Delhi’s Karol Bagh in February area which killed at least seventeen people.
It is as yet unclear whether fire safety lapses were responsible for the fire on Friday. But what is clear is that ongoing lapses in fire safety plague numerous hospitals, both in the national capital and nationwide. Compliance is necessary if patient and worker safety is to be guaranteed.