Fire hazard unheeded?
> Blaze broke out at ward 10 days before incident that killed six patients
JOHOR BARU: There were warning signs earlier that the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Sultanah Aminah Hospital was a fire hazard but whether the signs were heeded remains unclear.
In a shocking revelation yesterday, the Fire and Rescue Department said a fire broke out at the ICU some 10 days before the major fire that claimed six lives on Tuesday.
According to Johor Baru Fire and Rescue chief Ibrahim Omar, the earlier fire occurred on Oct 15.
“We got a call about the fire due to a faulty socket that burst into flames at the ICU, but by the time we got there the fire had already been put out by hospital staff,” he said.
He added that after investigations, he had suggested that the hospital’s engineering department do tests on the sockets in the ward.
Another shocking revelation is that the hospital had not conducted a fire drill for its staff since 2014. Ibrahim said the department had never conducted a drill there. “I don’t know when the last one was, it could have been way back in 2009,” he told a press conference at the hospital.
He said that if there were fire drills and the ICU block had a first-response team, the recovery of victims would have been faster, adding that most parts of the hospital had a first-response team, except for the ICU ward.
“When we got there, everyone had panicked and there was chaos because there wasn’t a first-response team,” he said.
Ibrahim said that it is a legal requirement that every building has such a team. It was reported earlier that the ICU had no heat or smoke detectors and sprinklers were only in the corridors.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the hospital’s main building, which includes the east and west blocks, will be shut down for two to four weeks pending investigations.
“During this shut down period, services like our Accident and Emergency ward, Central Sterile Services department and blood bank will be closed,” he said.
He urged the public to seek treatment from other hospitals in the state, if possible.
He added that the hospital might have to enlist the help of the private sector to treat some patients.
On the safety and certificate of fitness of the building, Subramaniam said there had been many phases of renovations in the hospital over the years and at all times, the state Fire Department had given its approval.