FIRE HAZZARD: From fire to electric frying pan – Sparks fly in surgery room

FIRE HAZZARD: From fire to electric frying pan – Sparks fly in surgery room – a repeat experience to set complacency right ?!!

Guide to Fire Safety in Darjeeling District in Siliguri - other Darjeeling towns unfigured by Bengal ?!!


Siliguri, June 18: Sparks from a switchboard today triggered panic in the main operation theatre of the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, five days after a fire at the emergency operation theatre.

Doctors and nurses were in the middle of two orthopaedic surgeries when they noticed sparks coming out of the switchboard at OT II around 1.30pm.

“We were carrying out the surgeries when we saw sparks from one of the switchboards. A fire had taken place at the emergency operation theatre on June 13, so we panicked. We were tense as there were two surgeries going on. While some doctors and nurses continued with the operations, some of us intimated the authorities,” said a nurse who was present in the room during the operation.

The surgeries were being conducted on a six-month-old boy and an adult male, said hospital sources.

Within five minutes, the mainswitch was put off and the operations were carried out under emergency lights.

Panic over fire again in North Bengal Medical College & Hospital (NBMCH) - second red card over electrical fittings ?!! (Photo from Himalaya Darpan)

“There was no gap in the surgical procedures which were completed using emergency lights. It took 20 minutes to complete the surgeries after the fire alarm. Although we faced some difficulties working under emergency lights, both the operations were successful,” said another on-duty nurse at OT II.

Two fire tenders from Siliguri fire station reached the NBMCH soon. However, they were not needed to put out the fire. The hospital authorities called in civil and electrical engineers of the public works department attached to the NBMCH.

S.P. Maitra, a fire official, said: “It was a not a fire but a momentary flash in one of the switchboards that caused panic among the staff at the operation theatre. A leak had developed near the switch-board and water had seeped into it, causing the sparks. Although we reached the spot in time, we did not have to use the fire tenders. Frequent fire alarms at the NBMCH are a matter of concern and the authorities should look into the aspects of electrical and civil maintenance of the entire hospital.”

On June 13, a fire had broken out at the emergency OT of the NBMCH because of a short circuit in the AC. Thirty patients were evacuated from the male and female casualty wards and 10 oxygen cylinders were removed from the OT safely. Since then, the main OT is being used for all emergency surgeries.

Today, there were 16 surgeries scheduled at the main OT and the last two were in progress when the incident took place.

After the PWD officials and the fire brigade team inspected the main OT, the power was restored.

According to the PWD’s electrical officials, the wiring at the main OT had been changed two years ago.

“Preliminary probe reveals that a leak in the switchboard had caused the electrical sparks. We have repaired the switchboard and checked the wiring. There is no danger now and the operation theatre can function as usual,” said a PWD electrical official at the NBMCH.

In the evening, the OT II was used to conduct an emergency operation.

Study sheds light on lack of fire norms – and no concern for the entire Darjeeling Hills ?!!

Meeting on fire safety in Siliguri - unconcerned about Darjeeling, but naturally as still not under its control ?!! (Photo from Himalaya Darpan)


Siliguri, June 18: Congested roads and lack of proper fire safety measures have turned 11 markets in Siliguri into tinderboxes, according to a survey conducted by the fire department.

Proper water storage facilities and frequent maintenance of electric wiring are some of the measures the fire officers recommended for markets to avert infernos.

“After conducting a study on 11 markets located in different wards of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, we have recommended certain measures, which should be taken up immediately to avoid any accidental fires,” said Asit Sarkar, the deputy director of fire services in north Bengal (see chart on left).

He was speaking at a meeting convened by mayor Gangotri Datta to discuss the findings of the study. Deputy mayor Nantu Paul, members mayor-in-council, civic officials and office-bearers of the 11 market committees were present at the meeting.

“After inspecting the markets here, it was observed that availability of water should be immediately ensured for fire fighting purposes. Installation of water hydrants is also necessary, as there are no such equipment in the markets. As 60 per cent of fires occur because of shabby electrical wires, we feel, shop owners should look into that aspect also,” said Sarkar.

A major problem the fire department will encounter in case of a blaze is the encroached roads to the markets

“Markets here are congested with most of the passages being encroached. It is impossible for fire engines to reach spots. Apart from that, each and every trader should have their own fire extinguishing arrangements so that the preliminary steps can be taken as soon as a blaze is detected,” said Sarkar.

Biswajit Das, the secretary of the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industries in North Bengal, suggested that two fire engines be kept on standby near Kanchenjungha Stadium, which is close to major markets in Siliguri. “The fire station is located in a corner of the town and fire tenders often face traffic congestion while trying to reach accident spots. We suggest that the department park two engines near the stadium so that they can reach the spot promptly,” said Das.

Badal Guha, the president of the Bidhan Market Byabsayee Samiti, requested the mayor to allow shop owners to construct concrete structures. “As most of the shops are wooden structures and there is no separate market complex, we have requested the mayor to allow us to construct concrete buildings,” said Guha.

The mayor assured the traders that alternative sources of water would be arranged by the corporation in a couple of months.


One Response to “FIRE HAZZARD: From fire to electric frying pan – Sparks fly in surgery room”

  1. Lessir Says:

    One cannot stress enough the importance of Fire safety Equipment.

    In our chosen Industry of Event management and Exhibitions it is a legal requirement to install such Equipment.

    Generally the marquees and other temporary structures are manufactured from flammable materials such as PVC or plastic impregnated “Canvas”.

    Therefore the availability of suitable Fire Extinguishers as well as signage are paramount to the health and safety of the public attending such events.

    (Yes, better safe than sorry – Editor)

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