Fire Service files its report with the High Court
Effective measures could have saved the lives of patients who died in the fire at the Covid-19 unit of United Hospital on May 27, according to a probe report submitted by Fire Service & Civil Defence to the High Court.
The report also mentioned negligence on the part of the hospital authority in controlling and preventing the fire.
Following the HC's earlier order, the probe report was submitted along with two other reports (from the Police and Rajuk) to the court's virtual bench on Sunday.
Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Amit Talukder presented all the reports before the bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim.
According to the report, the duty personnel at the isolation centre had 5 minutes after the fire was detected in the air control system (AC), but they did not try primary fire control, ring the emergency alarm, or call fire services.
Furthermore, three people, including a doctor and cleaner, did not try to use the fire extinguisher and other fire control systems, though they had seen fire spark on the AC. The four ton AC was replaced from another location to the isolation centre and repaired at 1 pm on that day.
“The isolation centre had Covid-19 patients, guards at the main entrance, administrative persons and trained manpower who were not effectively attending to the fire fighting at that time. The fire safety officer was also not present during the incident,” the report said.
The report mentioned that there were 12 fire extinguishers near the location and of those, nine were expired.
It also said the hospital had a total of 51 expired extinguishers (including the nine) out of 179 at the moment.
The isolation centre had no ventilation system or active fire protection, and the interior was constructed with flammable wooden, rubber, plastic and synthetic materials, the report added.
The fire service report also mentioned four recommendations for infrastructure such as the isolation centre of United Hospital.
“If constructing temporary infrastructure like this isolation centre, installation of fire control false ceilings, concealing and conduits of electrical cables/wires, sealing the duct line with stoppers, installation of fire exit, fire control panel, public address system, fire suppression systems and smoke detectors are musts. Refrain from installing auto lock doors everywhere. No temporary infrastructure like the isolation centre can be installed without a fire control system,” according to the reccomendations
“At least 25 % manpower from the hospital must be given training about fire control, especially those selected to take care of patients. Regular presence of fire safety officers and personnel concerned needs to be ensured. According to the Bangladesh Building Code, constructing any kind of infrastructure in the basement must be avoided, except car parking,” the recommendation further said.
The five-member probe committee recorded 19 witness accounts from relatives of the deceased and hospital authorities.
The court fixed June 22 for the next hearing in this regard.
Earlier on June 2, the HC's virtual bench asked the authorities of United Hospital to submit a report before it by June 14 with an explanation on the cause of death of five patients in their coronavirus isolation unit.
Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Niaz Muhammad Mahboob and Barrister Shahida Parvin Shila filed the writ petition on May 30.
On May 27, five patients died in a devastating fire at the makeshift coronavirus unit of United Hospital in Gulshan, Dhaka.