In January, two fire cases were reported in the city’s hospitals within days of each other, in Kasturba Medical College (KMC, Jyothi) and Father Muller Medical College (FMMC). While the hospitals had fire-fighting equipment, the incidents pointed towards a need to train people in fighting fire.

A person from KMC who did not wish to be identified told The Hindu that during the fire when one person tried to pick up the fire extinguisher, it fell on his feet. In FMMC, the method used to fight the fire was more suitable to outdoors than indoors and the substance was used in excess, said H.S. Varadarajan, Chief Fire Officer, Mangalore Region.

Mr. Varadarajan said that most people think that fire-fighting equipment, because they are red in colour, will automatically take care of fire. But the equipment has to be operated and people must be trained in using them, especially as most people panic during a fire. The Fire and Emergency Services department trains people in what to do before the arrival of the fire tenders. It tells them how to escape from a building with fire, how to save patients, raise an alarm, operate extinguishers, and guide others into safe areas without panicking, he said.

Now, hospitals, including A.J. Hospital, KMC, and FMMC, were approaching the department, he said.

In KMC, people are being trained in escaping from fire.

In A.J. Hospital, while all staff completed the training last year, the system has to be rectified, he said.

Lady Goschen Hospital’s new building had initial anti-fire precautions.

On the Pumpwell side, the FMMC has taken two NoCs for two separate buildings there. “For the old building, they have submitted an application and we will give advice,” Mr. Varadarajan said.

The department is in talks with Yenepoya Hospital for training on fire-fighting, he said.

In Wenlock, it was clarified the Fire and Emergency Services department would only train people and not provide equipment.

About Indiana Hospital’s fire-fighting system, he said: “It is cleared by our department.”

Meanwhile, Anand Venugopal, Deputy Medical Superintendent, KMC, said that a core team had been formed with the idea that there must be at least one or two persons trained in fire-fighting in every shift on each floor of the hospital.

Saroja, Resident Medical Officer, Wenlock Hospital, said the company that installed fire extinguishers in the hospital trained staff members located nearby. But nurses in wards had not been trained and plans were on to get training for the hospital staff.

Musabba, Medical Superintendent, Yenepoya Hospital, said the 10-floor hospital had fire extinguisher and escape doors with clear demarcations. However, he said: “We have not done mock drills yet. Disaster management committee is there. We will meet in two or three days (on how to tackle fire)”.

Mr. Varadarajan said it was best to incorporate fire-fighting at the design level to avoid violations (such as maintaining minimum distance between two smoke detectors or sprinklers).

The Fire and Emergency Services department gives the No Objection Certificate if a building meets National Building Code (NBC) norms. Just having fire extinguishers is nothing, he said.

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