W Bengal orders fire safety audit of all Covid facilities in state

Shaken by the fire in a Covid-19 hospital in Ahmedabad in which eight people were killed, the West Bengal government has started conducting fire safety audits of Covid treatment centres and hospitals in the state. State Fire Minister, Sujit Bose, said he ordered an immediate fire-safety audit after receiving a letter from Swastha Bhavan (Department of Health).
“We received a letter from the Department of Health about three days ago, and I have already spoken to the officials of the department. All actions have been initiated to ensure fire safety in Covid hospitals and centres,” Bose said. The State has 83 hospitals dedicated for the treatment of Covid-19 of which 28 are government hospitals. The government has requisitioned 55 private hospitals for the purpose. Meanwhile, there are 582 government quarantine centres, and 109 safe homes for patients who either have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, and do not have facilities to isolate themselves at home.

All these treatment centres will be covered in the fire audit. Sources in the state Fire Services said most of the Covid-19 hospitals had fire security equipment. The safe home had been advised to implement the necessary safety measures, they added. “Most of them are already equipped with machinery to fight any fire-related incident. However, a proper fire audit, especially of safe homes, can reduce the chances of risk to lives if such incidents occur,” said an official.

The hospital administrations have been informed about the audit, and a report is being prepared, according to officials. This report will be submitted, and remedial actions will be taken if gaps are found. “We have installed all necessary gadgets to extinguish fire,” said a private hospital employee, saying they will wait to see if the fire authorities advise steps to make more improvements.