Short circuit in AC system caused the fire; Five patients of the unit shifted to safety

A fire broke out in the intensive coronary care unit (ICCU) of Father Muller Medical College Hospital on Wednesday morning. No one was injured in the incident.

All the five patients in the ICCU were immediately shifted to a safe place, Richard Coelho, Administrator, FMMCH, told presspersons at the spot.

A short circuit in the air-conditioning system caused the fire, he said. A security guard saw it and immediately doused the fire with extinguisher. But the corridors were filled with smoke from the extinguisher and that created confusion, Mr. Coelho said. The glass panes were broken to let the smoke out.

“Nothing has happened. The crowd was due to the visiting hours. People were in panic for some time. The police came and everybody was cooperative. There was no tragedy or risk to nurses or patients,” he said.

He told The Hindu that there was no damage to equipment. Presspersons were not allowed to see the spot. The patients would be shifted back to the ICCU after the air-conditioner was set right on Wednesday.

H.S. Varadarajan, Chief Fire Officer, told The Hindu that there were eight to 10 patients, including those shifted from the postoperative ward. “We only took five patients. Before that, some other patients were shifted, I was told,” he said. The fire started from an electrical switch in the metre room within the ICCU ward.

Instead of carbon dioxide extinguisher, they had used chemical powder, which was absorbed by the air-conditioning ducts. According to him, they used the fire extinguisher with dry chemical powder (DCP) in abundant quantity. The powder got into the air-conditioning ducts. Carbon dioxide would have been good. “DCP is for use only in open air,” he said.

The Fire and Emergency Services department sent three fire tenders, two from Pandeshwar, one from Kadri and one mini advanced fire technology vehicle. While one tender reached within five minutes, the other two reached within eight minutes, he said.

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