AIIMS fire disaster : Internal Probe begins

New Delhi, Aug 18 A day after a major fire broke out in the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) complex, the Central government-run hospital began an internal enquiry on Sunday to know what caused the disaster and how to strengthen anti-fire measures.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan reviewed the situation at AIIMS along with the hospital Director and senior faculty members.

“The fire which is suspected to have started from the microbiology laboratory area has affected some laboratories and office areas. The hospital area has not been affected by the fire and there has been no casualty,” the hospital said in a statement.

“As a precautionary measure, AIIMS administration had shifted patients from AB wing to other areas of the hospital. These patients have been shifted back to their respective wards.

“The hospital along with the emergency department and emergency laboratories is fully functional,” the statement said.

It said the AIIMS administration had initiated an internal enquiry to look into the cause of the fire and further strengthen preventive measure.

“AIIMS has a regular fire prevention system. There are fire personnel deployed round the clock with fire fighting safety systems regularly tested including clearance of fire exits and corridors. Awareness of fire fighting systems among staff is conducted regularly,” it added.

Delhi Fire Service (DFS) chief Vipin Kental on Sunday said the damage due to the blaze at AIIMS could have avoided had the hospital administration been careful about exits and open spaces and if its security staff had been more alert.

The Saturday evening blaze started on the second floor of the PC building and quickly spread to the fifth floor, destroying infrastructure and expensive medical equipment besides a large number of samples and records of patients.

It took more than 12 hours and 34 fire tenders to douse the fire. Initial investigation suggests short circuit as the cause of the fire though an official reason is yet to be given.

“No casualties were reported. Our staff would have under no circumstance let the fire spread had it not faced unnecessary hurdles. The administration should have been a little more careful about exits and open spaces in the hospital and the security staff shown alertness,” said Kental.

He said where the blaze started, there was a teaching block besides research labs. It also housed an ICU. Next to it was the Emergency block.

Kental said the rear end of the PC building, where the firemen could have easily placed their high-rise platforms and prevented the fire from spreading to upper storeys, had several high capacity generators blocking the way.

“So we had no choice but to place the platforms outside the PC building, a little away from the fire spot. This took time and also hampered our smooth operation.

“The administration must ensure proper arrangement of exits and open spaces inside the hospital in case of such an emergency,” he said.

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