SKIMS most unsafe hospital in Kashmir

Irfan Tramboo

Srinagar, Jan 13: With the Fire Safety Audit carried out decades ago at some hospitals and not even once at some, all the major hospitals in Srinagar along with those in districts are ‘highly vulnerable’ and ‘un-safe’ in case of any fire incident.
Official sources in the Fire Department told Excelsior that due to the absence of in-built fire fighting mechanism at all major hospitals, the hospital buildings are highly vulnerable if any fire incident breaks out.
Sources further said that while a few of the hospitals are now complying with the Fire Safety Audit, there still are a majority of the hospitals that are not safe and do not have the equipments required in dealing with any emergency situation. “At few places there is partial compliance and lots more needs to be done,” they said.
Excelsior has learnt that the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura stands first in the list of vulnerable hospitals in Srinagar-all due to the nature of its enormity. They said that the Fire Safety Audit at the SKIMS has been carried out “long back”.
“Given the nature of the building-how enormous it is-the lack of basic equipments at the hospital makes it vulnerable in the wake of any fire incident,” they said, adding that all they have got are extinguishers, and the basic requirements are to be kept up to date, and when they have got nothing at all what can you expect.
Further, the sources revealed that while the inbuilt fire fighting mechanism at SKIMS is not adequate to deal with any kind of situation, “the mechanism is at the same time lying defunct.”
Given the shortcomings with regard to the fire and safety measures at all these hospital, the officials categorically said that all the hospitals are not safe in case of any eventuality.
Interestingly, the Government has so far looked the other way when it comes to the comprehensive fire audit of all the hospitals in Srinagar as well as of those in the districts.
While the Government few months back carried a Fire Safety Audit drive in hundreds of hotels and houseboats following a fire incident in a hotel in Gulmarg, it seems to be waiting for any fire eventuality to occur in the hospitals in Srinagar in order to compel it to carry out the audit.
As a part of that drive, the Fire and Emergency Services carried out a joint audit with the Department of Tourism on the special instructions of the Chief Secretary and the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir. The audit was carried out for 1000 hotels and 1000 houseboats-which took months altogether.
Deputy Director of Fire and Emergency Services, Bashir Ahmad Shah told Excelsior that carrying out the audit is a continuous process and that they are doing it. He also confirmed the fact that the hospitals in Srinagar are not safe when it comes to occurrence of fire incidents and subsequent dealing with the same.
“We have been doing the work; we carried an audit of Children Hospital, Sonwar some time ago, we had told them what to do, they are doing it; even the LD is putting in place the safety measures-but it is not happening everywhere,” he said.