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Hospitals need to upgrade fire evacuation system to save lives & expensive assets during fire emergencies: Dr Vikram Mehta

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Tuesday, January 24, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Popularly known as the Fire Evacuation Man of Maharashtra, Dr. Vikram Mehta cautions that hospitals need to upgrade their fire evacuation system to save lives and expensive assets of the hospitals during fire emergencies.

The public health department of Maharashtra has issued fresh guidelines to public hospitals to maintain a regular fire safety system. According to a recent US FDA report, there is an average of 5,700 fires reported every year in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, with 48% of those reported fires in nursing homes. These fires claim lives and are responsible for property damage that totals millions of dollars.

An analysis of hospital fires found that at least 122 people died in hospital fires between August 2020 and April 2022.  

There are several guidelines that state that hospitals should ensure that fire extinguishers are in working condition and regularly filled up, discrepancies in the fire audits should be plugged in, mock drills must be organized every three months and fire exits are displayed clearly, among others.

“While these steps are a must while following fire safety protocols in hospitals, there is one aspect that deserves more attention– fire evacuation measures.  For years, most hospitals in India have limited the fire evacuation plans to fire exits, fire lifts, and chutes and see no reason to upgrade them. But the reality is that it needs not just an upgrade, but a complete overhaul. One such measure that can help minimize the loss of human lives in a hospital fire is a fire evacuation lift. And no, it is not the same as a fire lift or fire chute,” says Dr. Vikram Mehta, managing director, Spartan Fire Evacuation Lift.

The fire evacuation lift should rightfully be called the vertical fire brigade as it reaches higher floors vertically and can be operated by anyone. In fact, it is also called the new PPE (Public Protection Equipment) as it saves the lives of people in a hospital or in a high-rise building that has caught fire, in the minimum time possible as compared to the rescue equipment such as fire lifts or fire towers.  

“Apart from being equipped with firefighting apparatus like a fire blanket, first-aid box, and breathing apparatus, it also has a trap door on the roof for an emergency exit and a 30-minute battery backup in case of power failure. Most importantly, any person can operate this lift without waiting for a liftman or firefighters during such fire emergencies. None of this is possible with the fire life or chute,” Dr. Vikram Mehta informs.


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