Medical college hospital lacks mandatory fire NOC

A view of Government Medical College, Ernakulam.   | Photo Credit: THE HINDU

The Government Medical College Hospital (MCH), Kalamassery, which continues to be at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic and was the first dedicated COVID treatment centre in the State, does not have the mandatory No-Objection Certificate (NOC) of the Fire and Rescue Services Department.

Of the four blocks with 500 beds, the one housing the recently constructed Cath Lab alone has NOC, it emerged during a recent fire audit done by the Fire and Rescue Services Department on a Supreme Court directive.

MCH sources admitted as much and said they would apply for NOC as soon as the ₹69-lakh centralised fire safety system connecting all the four blocks was completed. Work was halfway through before it was halted briefly due to the pandemic, they said. Originally set up as a cooperative medical college under the Cooperative Academy of Professional Education (CAPE), the government had taken over the institution in 2013.

Fire officials stressed the significance of a functional permanent fire fighting system considering the probability of firefighters getting stuck in traffic in the event of an emergency at MCH, which is 9 km away from the nearest fire station at Eloor, and 10 km from the Thrikkakara fire station.

During the initial inspection conducted by fire force officials, several fire extinguishers were found faulty. However, since then the hospital has bought new extinguishers, besides refilling the existing ones.

Fire force officials said MCH had never applied for the annual renewal of NOC, which is mandatory, in which case the station concerned would have had the record of the same. The renewal involves applying with a copy of the original NOC, payment of a fee of ₹2,315, and two copies of the building plan approved by the local body concerned.

“They [hospital authorities] are working to improve the fire safety capabilities but have no functional permanent firefighting installations at the moment. We told them in no uncertain terms that operating without NOC amounted to a serious lapse, which should be rectified at the earliest,” a senior fire force official said.

The apex court in its order in December had also asked dedicated COVID-19 hospitals to take NOC from the Fire Department within four weeks and warned of punitive action for failing to do so.

Fire force officials inspected the hospital blocks dedicated to COVID-19 patients and their evacuation routes and firefighting capabilities. “The evacuation routes, including ramps for the evacuation of wheelchair-bound patients and fire exits, were accessible and free of hindrances,” said fire force sources.

The inspection was carried out based on a 17-point check-list, which, among others, looked at the NOC and its timely renewal, the adequacy and accessibility of evacuation routes, availability of basic and permanent firefighting system and their operational readiness, and accessibility to fire tenders.

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 7:11:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/medical-college-hospital-lacks-mandatory-fire-noc/article33613091.ece

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