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Orman Kimbrough
Orman Kimbrough
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Fires In Hospitals – Causes And Solutions

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Although fires in hospitals have shown a downward trend in the USA and Canada in the past few decades, the incidence of the same is still a cause of great loss to life and property and a general awareness regarding the fire safety norms needs to be stepped up. The staff of the hospital should be properly trained to deal with fire emergencies particularly with regard to the use of fire extinguishers. As compared to the hospital buildings of the 1940s and 1950s, when wooden frame construction, open stairways and corridors, flammable gases and inadequate electrical equipment were the norms, the modern day hospital buildings are less prone to fire outbreaks.

Causes Of Fires In Hospitals

Fires in hospitals can cause far greater damage than fire in other buildings because of the presence of oxygen and other inflammable substances in the hospital and due to the inability of the patients to move away from the fire speedily. Most fires in hospitals, however, start from the kitchens and in rooms where the fire ignites or in places with beddings or clothing that are near the ignited fire. The other factors that could lead to fires in hospitals are cooking, electrical short circuits, various appliances and equipment and the careless discarding of things. The presence of large quantities of fabrics, plastics, wire insulations and grease along with other cooking material also add fuel to the causes of fire. Basically, the presence of heat, fuel and oxygen acts as a catalyst in spreading the fires in hospitals.

Fire detection is normally carried out by automatic alarm or by the staff that operates the call points. The spread of the fire is restricted by passive means and it is left to the fire service to evacuate the patients and the staff along with the task of controlling and extinguishing the fire.

Solutions For Better Control Of Fires In Hospitals

Various steps to improve safety conditions in hospitals have been in use for the past sixty years. These are: widespread use of smoke and fire detection equipment, use of fire doors with automatic closing mechanism, better management of fire safety procedures, better building designs for maintaining fire safety standards and uniform fire safety standards throughout the country.

Constant efforts are being made to improve the strategies for fire control so that the fire can be detected at an early stage and also for controlling the fire automatically and protecting the people inside the hospital particularly in the room where the fire started. Fire sprinklers are now being used extensively as they are very reliable, unobtrusive and cost-effective. These sprinklers can detect the fire as soon as it starts and they discharge water in the affected areas immediately. An alarm is sounded and the smoke quantity and temperature is reduced and with the reduction of the buoyancy and spread of the smoke, the fire is suppressed easily. The sprinklers also use far less water than the conventional fire services.