Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

After the major fire accident at Pandit Raghunath Murmu (PRM) Medical College and Hospital in Baripada a couple of days back, questions have now been raised over the safety majors at various hospitals across Odisha.

Though the Superintendent of PRM Medical College and Hospital has assured that a probe will be launched to ascertain the exact cause of the fire, the chances of fire breaking out at other hospitals in the future can’t be ruled out. According to experts, the fire security norms at most of the hospitals in the State have been thrown to the winds.

As per reports, panic gripped the patients as well as the staff of PRM Medical College and Hospital after smoke was initially detected in the gynecology department on the third floor. Though the exact reason behind the fire is not clear, all the patients in the ward as well as in the ICU were subsequently evacuated to safety. It took nearly three-long hours to douse the fire completely.

Now questions are raised if the fire broke out due to short circuit, lackadaisical attitude of the maintenance department or lack of coordination between different departments.

The fire services department is attributing the cause of the fire to short circuit. However, as per the relatives of the patients and intellectuals of the area, the fire broke out due to lack of coordination between different departments and lackadaisical attitude of the electric maintenance department. Even the employees of electric maintenance and water supply departments were not in sight during the accident. As nobody turned out to open the fire exit door, the lock of the door had to be broken in a desperate measure.

“Workers of the maintenance department didn’t turn up during the accident. There was lack of coordination between maintenance and coordination departments,” said Rakesh Singh, a local resident.

Meanwhile, as per the Superintendent of the hospital, Dr Pratibha Panda, medical equipment worth crores of rupees has been gutted at the gynecology department. Moreover, an internal inquiry has been launched to ascertain the cause of the fire.

“All the patients have been evacuated. They have been kept at proper place and their conditions are stable. The restoration work will be completed very soon. We will do a preliminary inquiry to ascertain the cause of the accident,” said Panda.

Saheed Laxman Nayak Medical College in Koraput

The fire safety measures at the gynecology and pediatrics departments in Saheed Laxman Nayak Medical College in Koraput are not much different. Though water sprayer pipes and fire extinguishers are in place, no information is available about the refilling dates of the cylinders. The refilling date of one cylinder expired in 2019.

Making matters worse, not a single employee of the hospital has been trained in minimum firefighting skills. 

Considering the prevailing situation, the patients, their relatives and several social activists have alleged that the hospital authorities are playing with the lives of patients.

“People of Koraput have been benefitted a lot after the hospital was set up in the district. However, if proper fire safety measures will not be ensured, it will lead to severe accidents. Proper training, coordination and up-to-date knowledge among the employees are required to avert any fire related accident,” said social activist, Pradeep Mohanty.

Responding to the allegations, the hospital Superintendent Prashant Sahu stated that he has ordered to provide him the files related to the fire safety measures of the hospital. After examining the files, he will take all the necessary measures, Sahu assured.

“I recently took charge. I don’t have much knowledge about fire safety measures. After having discussions with the concerned employees and checking the files, appropriate measures will be taken,” said Sahu.

Meanwhile, as per experts, fire safety standard checking, proper monitoring and supervision are essential in the hospitals as part of the fire safety norms. Moreover, the employees should be imparted proper training in this regard and fire extinguishers should be properly maintained and refilled regularly.

“As per our observation, fire related accidents are mostly happening due to electric short circuits. We have asked all the government and private hospitals to apply for fire safety certificates and take all the fire safety measures. Those who have flouted the norms, we have issued notices to them,” said Fire Services DIG Sarthak Sarangi.

  • Reported by:
  • DEBASHISH MOHANTY , MANIK Lal PANI , Surya Narayan Panda