Express News Service

HYDERABAD: After a fire claimed 11 Covid-19 patients in Vijayawada on Sunday, the Director of Telangana Public Health and Family Welfare Dr G Srinivasa Rao has ordered hospitals, including private Covid-19-care centres where patients are kept in isolation, to follow fire safety norms.

“Any violation of norms will be viewed as a serious offence,” he stated in a circular.

Concerns over safety of patients are being raised in hotels that had been converted to Corona-care centres in the state.

Sources from the Telangana State Disaster Response and Fire Services Department have said that the buildings which are being converted into the centres are not obtaining any required permissions.

After the outbreak of Covid-19, as per data made available by the Department of Public Health and Family Welfare, as many as 36 hotels have been converted into Covid-care centres.

S Sreedhar Reddy, Rangareddy district fire officer, said, “We were neither informed, nor have we received any applications for NOC for setting up the centres. Commercial buildings taller than 15 metres should have a valid permit from the department as per the by-laws of National Building Code (NBC).” The NBC regulations mandate that even buildings shorter than 15 metres are required to have fire safety equipment installed.

Dysfunctional equipment

By and large, in government hospitals in the city, fire-fighting equipment such as fire alarm, fire extinguishers and hose reels are not functional.

In addition, haphazard electricity cables also pose a major fire threat to medical institutions. Due to this, fire accidents often occur in public hospitals, and also in private ones.

About a month ago, a major fire broke out in the blood bank of the MNJ Institute of Oncology, a state-run cancer hospital. In August 2019, a fire occurred in the paediatric surgery ward of Gandhi Hospital.

However, Gandhi Hospital Superintendent, Dr M Raja Rao, said, “Recently, fire officials tested the fire safety equipment and found it to be satisfactory. We are prepared to handle fire-like situations and hope no such incidents occur.”

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