CWM Hospital fire system
Satish Nakched, Suva
It is with great disappointment to note that the Colonial War Memorial Hospital is not in compliance with the National Fire Authority requirements due to the fact that the fire alarm warning systems are not operational.
The fire control panel outside the Children’s ward and two near the emergency has been vandalised and are completely dead. The fire panel glass door is smashed and the one outside the Children’s ward do not have any closure at all with exposed electrical wires and itself is a hazard. The chances are high that an unsupervised child can become a victim of electrocution. There are smoke detectors mounted on the ceiling and if it detects smoke the signal will be sent to the fire panel and the audio siren will be activated giving the people inside ample time to be evacuated and move to safety. Apart from this most of the fire panels are directly connected to the NFA Control room and within minutes the fire trucks will be dispatched.
In a case of a fire time is sensitive and such information must come through without any delays for a speedy reaction. The fire control panels will also give the exact location of the fire. This equipment is to be serviced twice a year and the equipment tags are up dated the same time. Upon closer inspections it was found out that most of the smoke detector are defective and are in default mode. Poor servicing, dust accumulation and the faulty signal communication lines can cause this.
It is the smoke and the toxic gas that kills people in a building fire rather than the heat itself. So it is necessary to sound the alarm and alert the people for reaction. The escape route must not be obstructed in anyway and exits clearly marked. There are damaged beds lined up near the stairs. A well trained evacuation team on receiving such signals can reduce such risk of causalities. Timely special attention must be given to the physically challenged and the very sick people to move out to safety. The CWM Hospital at any given time has more than five hundred inpatients and that numbers increases if the outpatient, staff and the visitors are added to the list. The list also includes the vulnerable new mothers and the babies. The hospital is located on a large area and is in a sense very compact if you divide the space available with the number of people present there. The hospital operation is ongoing 24/7 and is bursting with activity with a lot of the pedestrian and vehicle movement. Everyone who is in the hospital are in a very high red risk category should a fire break out which may have a catastrophic result. Appropriate action must be taken now to ensure that the risk of fire in the hospital is minimised by compliance at all times with the fire safety requirements of the National Fire Authority. The relevant Minister must immediately instruct the Safety Audit team to probe further with the view to eliminate the hazard and recommend corrective actions.
Such threats will only occur if the organisation has a poor and a very ineffective OHS Committee which itself is a breach of the Act and other associated legislations.