Health ministry reviews heat-related action plan with states/UTs, ensures firefighting plan in place for hospital fires

  • These directives come in the backdrop of IMD's forecast for June that there could be above-normal temperatures during the heatwave over most areas of northwest India and adjoining parts of central India.

Priyanka Sharma
First Published6 Jun 2024
The Centre has instructed the state governments to ensure implementation of fire safety protocols at all healthcare facilities. (ANI)
The Centre has instructed the state governments to ensure implementation of fire safety protocols at all healthcare facilities. (ANI)

New Delhi: In the wake of the heatwave across north India, the Union health ministry has held a fresh review meeting with States/UTs to discuss the scenario and directed them to take strict measures to prevent hospitals fires during the summer months. The Centre has further instructed the state governments to ensure implementation of fire safety protocols at all healthcare facilities.

The directions given to the state health departments include measures like implementation of the heat-related action plan, dissemination of the early warning for the heatwave issued by the Indian Metrological Department (IMD), assessment of all healthcare facilities, ambulances, heat-related cases, and surveillance of stroke cases and deaths.

These directives come in the backdrop of IMD's forecast that in June there could be above-normal temperatures reported during the heatwave, likely to be spread over most areas of northwest India and adjoining parts of central India.

Fire-safety awareness

“States like Madhya Pradesh have undertaken mock-drill exercises on fire-safety accidents in all government and private hospitals. Code Red protocol has also been issued,” according to a health ministry statement. Heatwave control rooms have been set up across Odisha.

The Uttar Pradesh government has started the DASTAK (Door-to-door) campaign, aiming to raise awareness among people. The state government has also identified fire safety officers in almost all health facilities. The government of Haryana has made dedicated financial allocation to ensure essential drugs and logistics at all hospitals. In Rajasthan, ambulances responding to distress calls via the toll-free 104 and 108 numbers are equipped with cooling appliances.

Also Read: Mint Primer | Into the 50s: Why heatwaves are hotter & longer

Meanwhile, in West Bengal and Bihar, fire departments have been prepped to issue fire safety certificates to hospitals under their jurisdiction after verification that fire-prevention systems are in place. Mock drills, too, are being conducted at hospitals to ensure that evacuation and fire-fighting protocols are being adhered to.

The Delhi government has also issued directives and the standard operating procedure (SOP) for firefighting system to all government and private sector hospitals.

Last month, a babycare centre in East Delhi reported a fire incident in which seven newborns died.

This year around 16,000 heatstroke cases and 60 deaths have been reported, according to government data.

Also Read: Are heatwaves evidence that climate change is speeding up?

If a fire no-objection certificate (NOC) is not available in smaller facilities, whether government or private institutes, the fire evacuation plan and firefighting system has been made mandatory, said a health ministry statement.

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