Ensure fire safety measures in hospitals: MHA to states

Ensure fire safety measures in hospitals: MHA to states after fire in Gujarat hospitals

States have been asked to submit an Action Taken Report (ATR) with the MHA at the earliest

Locals outside the designated Covid-19 hospital after a fire broke out in its ICU, in Rajkot. Credit: PTI.

Days after 14 Covid-19 patients were charred to death in two Gujarat hospitals, the Centre on Monday asked all states to ensure proper fire safety in all health facilities, saying "utmost precaution" needs to be taken when the country is fighting a pandemic.

In identical letters to Chief Secretaries of all state governments, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said that occurrence of various fire incidents in hospitals and nursing homes in recent past and non-adherence of fire safety measures by authorities in their respective jurisdiction were a "matter of concern".

His letter came against the backdrop of deaths of six Covid-19 patients due to fire in the ICU of a Rajkot hospital and another eight patients in a hospital in Ahmedabad.

"At such a crucial time, when the country is fighting against Covid-19 pandemic, utmost precaution needs to be taken to avoid such incidents in future," Bhalla wrote in his letter.

He reminded the states that the Directorate General (Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards) in the Ministry of Home Affairs has been regularly issuing advisories to the states so that suitable directions may be issued to ensure compliance of fire safety guidelines and to ensure that proper fire safety measures are put in place.

Bhalla said the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has also issued guidelines for hospital safety by laying down the provisions to establish the minimum requirement for a reasonable degree of safety from fire emergencies in healthcare facilities.

"I would urge you to ensure compliance of above advisories and direct all concerned to immediately re-inspect/re-check all hospitals/nursing homes from the point of view of fire protection and means of escape to prevent recurrence of such fire incidents in future," he said.

The states have also been asked to submit an Action Taken Report (ATR) with the MHA at the earliest.