A three-member committee has been formed to probe the fire that broke out at SSKM hospital on Saturday night. The fire started on the fifth floor of the Annexe Building of the hospital, which houses a child ward.
Serious differences emerged today between the minister of state for health Chandrima Bhattacharya and department secretary Satish Tiwari regarding the cause of the fire, which caused major damage of machinery and equipment.
While Bhattacharya, who visited the hospital today, termed it as “sabotage”, Tiwari claimed that there were lapses in installation of proper fire-fighting equipment.
Tiwari said the hospital lacked proper fire-fighting equipment like fire alarm and sprinklers, adding that the available equipment was inadequate to deal with such an emergency.
A meeting was convened with the PWD officials, health secretary and senior officials of the hospital and a three-member committee was formed to probe the incident. The committee, headed by medical superintendent of the hospital Tamal Ghosh, is expected to start work from Monday and will submit the report to the department next week.
It has been decided that the entire electrical system inside the hospital would be revamped as no electrical wires have been changed since the British era. PWD officials have been instructed to run a regular check on the electrical wiring of all state-run hospitals and maintain a log book.
Senior officials of the hospital, however, said they had already sent a proposal to the state health department regarding revamp of the hospital’s fire-fighting system, but till now they have not received the funds to carry out the work. The proposed set-up will cost around Rs 1 crore and due to paucity of funds, the work could not be carried out, they said.
A circular will soon be issued by the hospital superintendent to switch off all the electrical gadgets before leaving the premises and that all the air conditioners will be checked by the electrical engineers weekly. It was also decided that autocad machines will be installed in the air conditioner chambers to detect overheating of the machines.
Just a month ago, on October 26, there was another fire incident in the hospital resulting from overheating of air conditioners. But the hospital authorities failed to revamp the electrical system.
No one was hurt in yesterday’s fire as hospital authorities managed to evacuate the patients, but the condition of some of them has deteriorated. They have been shifted to the ICU.
Four fire engines were pressed in and the fire was brought under control within an hour.
Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim visited the hospital on Saturday and tried to pacify the panic-stricken people. He also hinted at “sabotage”, but said the probe report would decide the rest.