A total of 46 hospitals over 50 years old have already undergone fire safety audits to identify fire risks the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced.

The decision to conduct fire safety audits in hospitals was made following the fire that broke out at the intensive care unit of Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) last October, which resulted in the deaths of six patients. The cause of the deadly blaze was said to be a faulty ceiling light capacitor, said Health Minister Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam last December.

Another fire took place at Ward 5B of the Raja Pemaisuri Bainun Hospital in November 2016, reportedly caused by a short circuit at a light switch.

MOH: Number of fire risks identified from safety audit

To ensure that the hospitals were thoroughly reviewed, the audits were carried out by the Health Ministry as well as the Fire and Rescue Department and the Public Works Department, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.

“From the fire safety audit, numerous risks had been identified, among others the ageing fire prevention system, old electrical wirings and installations and the installation of medicine gas system which did not comply with current standards, and other findings,” he also said.

“The ministry also undertook a fire risk survey on the hospitals, and found a large number of the hospitals were fire hazards and in need of an overhaul, upgrade and repair to be carried out to ensure the hospitals are safe and did not affect its daily operations,” he added.

Additional funds required to upgrade hospitals

Following the audits, the Health Ministry has plans to upgrade gas pipes and electrical wirings in old hospitals to ensure that fire incidents do not recur. In order to do so, the Ministry will need an additional budget of RM345.27 million, with RM185.87 million allocated to upgrade the buildings for 78 hospitals aged 30 years and above, and the remaining RM159.40 million to change the wiring systems for 95 hospitals.

“In some of the older hospitals, the medical gas pipes supply oxygen,” Hilmi explained. “If there is a leak and a spark, then there can be fire, so we are looking into how we can separate the gas pipes from the wiring.

Acknowledging that the process of upgrading will take time and incur a high cost, Hilmi said that the Health Ministry is “in the process of requesting for the additional budget from the Ministry of Finance.” MIMS

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