New Delhi, The Delhi Fire Service (DFS) on Sunday blamed the AIIMS for the losses it suffered in a major fire even as the premier institute reopened its Emergency ward a day after the disaster.
DFS chief Vipin Kantal said the extent of damage at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) could have avoided had its administration been careful about exits and open spaces and if its security staff had been more alert.
The Saturday blaze started on the second floor of the PC building and quickly spread to the fifth floor, destroying infrastructure and expensive medical equipment besides a large number of samples and records of patients.
It took over 30 fire tenders and several hours to douse the leaping flames. Initial investigation suggests short circuit caused the fire. But no casualties were reported although there was plenty of panic.
“Our staff would have under no circumstance let the fire spread had it not faced unnecessary hurdles,” Kental told IANS. “The administration should have been a little more careful about exits and open spaces in the hospital and the security staff has shown alertness.”
He said where the blaze started, there was a teaching block besides research labs. It also housed an ICU. Next to it was the Emergency block.
“Our first priority was to get the patients out, to avoid any loss of life,” Kental said.
He said the rear end of the PC building, where the firemen could have easily placed their high-rise platforms and prevented the fire from spreading to upper storeys, had several high capacity generators blocking the way.
“So we had no choice but to place the platforms outside the PC building, a little away from the fire spot. This took time and also hampered our smooth operation.
“The administration must ensure proper arrangement of exits and open spaces inside the hospital in case of such an emergency,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Emergency department, which was closed following the fire, reopened on Sunday.
“The hospital along with the emergency department and emergency laboratories is fully functional,” the central government-run hospital said in a statement.
The AIIMS said the fire may have started from the microbiology laboratory area and affected some laboratories and office areas. “The hospital area has not been affected,” it said.
As a precaution, the AIIMS administration shifted patients from the AB wing to other areas of the hospital but were shifted back to their wards later.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan reviewed the situation at AIIMS along with the hospital Director and senior faculty members.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also visited the hospital and said both the Delhi Police and AIIKS were investigating the incident.
The AIIMS receives hundreds of patients every day, both from the National Capital Region and neighbouring states.