Fire in Safdarjung Hospital

Short circuit in AC cited as reason, 16 babies rescued


A fire broke out in Safdarjung Hospital’s paediatric ward in the wee hours of Monday, forcing evacuation of 16 children, mostly newborn babies. No one was injured in the incident.

While the hospital spokesperson said the fire was quickly doused, a fire department officer, in charge of the operations said even a slight delay by the firefighters could have resulted in deaths of the babies.

The fire reportedly broke out in one of two window air-conditioners in the ward due to short circuit at 4.13 am. The officer said a total of eight fire brigades reached the spot in a couple of minutes and doused the fire by 4.25 am.

Lucky timing

“We were lucky that the incident occurred in the morning. There was no traffic and we reached the spot quickly. Even a delay of five minutes could have resulted in loss of lives,” the officer said.

However, he highlighted some serious problems encountered in the process.

Locked doors

“The hospital keeps the gates locked fearing child kidnapping gangs. But when it was time to open the lock, the hospital guards panicked. The firefighters had to cut the lock to gain access to the ward,” the officer said.

Guards should be trained to deal with such situations without panicking, he said and alleged that the hospital staff was caught unaware and without any plans to deal with such a situation.

The officer also said the staff failed to activate the fire extinguisher system and it was activated only after the firefighters arrived at the scene.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, hospital spokesperson S N Makwana first denied that the guards failed to open the lock, but soon retracted from his statement and said he had no idea about the particular incident.

Smoke engulfed the room creating panic among people. The officer said the nurses helped the firefighters in the evacuation process and in the process had their faces covered by soot.

The situation exposes the readiness or the lack of it in government-run hospitals in Delhi.

There have been several such incidents in the past.

Another fire recently at east Delhi’s GTB Hospital had exposed the preparedness of government hospitals in case of an emergency.

Eleven of Delhi government-run hospitals are yet to get the No Objection Certificate from the fire department.

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