Hospitals are among the most popular locations for fires to take place. According to the National Fire Protection Association, hospital fires account for approximately nine percent of all fires reported annually.In addition to causing significant damage, these fires may even result in death. In this article, we will look at the various reasons behind hospital fires and the measures to control them that can be implemented to avoid them.
Hospital fires aren’t an entirely new phenomenon. They’ve been present since the early times of health care. The first recorded hospital fire occurred in 1773 in the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. Since then, numerous fires have led to the death and property damage. A variety of factors contribute to the danger of fires occurring in hospitals. They include the deterioration of infrastructure, insufficient fire safety guidelines, and human errors.
Deteriorating infrastructure is among the main factors contributing to hospital fire danger. Many hospitals are old and need updating and, consequently, must be equipped with the latest fire protection features. This makes it difficult to evacuate patients during an emergency and increases the likelihood that fire could grow.
Causes Of Hospital Fires And Control Measures
The risk of an incident of fire within a medical setting could be caused by various sources, including heating equipment, as well as the storage of hazardous chemicals or electrical wiring that is not working properly.
Smoking cigarettes is a major reason for hospital fires, According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In reality, cigarettes cause over $400 million worth of damages every year.
Although smoking cigarettes is not permitted in health facilities, patients may sneak them in and not properly dispose of them when smoking outside.
Cigarette fires are particularly dangerous in hospitals since patients are usually sick and cannot evacuate their homes quickly. Additionally, hospital fires are likely to spread quickly because of the numerous fire-proof materials in these facilities.
Specialized Medical Equipment
Recently, there has been an increased number of hospital fires triggered by medical equipment. Due to their power-packed energy output, lasers and electrosurgical tools are commonly used as ignition sources. The fires are caused by using oxygen tanks and surgical attire and sterilizing flammable fluids.
Hospital staff must know about the dangers these kinds of equipment can pose and ensure they are protected from these hazards. Lasers and electrosurgical instruments should be utilized in well-ventilated areas and away from oxygen tanks, surgical clothes, and liquids that ignite. The items should be kept in fire-proof containers or cabinets if they can.
Hand rubs made of alcohol are widely employed in hospitals to stop the spread of infections. But, these products may be highly flammable and should be stored at least six feet from any potential ignition sources. Recently, numerous hospital fires have been caused due to accidental storage or hand sanitizer use, which caused significant destruction and even death.
It is important to teach all staff members in the hospital how to store and use hand sanitizers to avoid these tragedies. Also, hospitals should consider purchasing non-flammable alternatives to alcohol-based products. These offer the same degree of protection but without the danger of fire. By taking the appropriate precautions, we can ensure that hospital fires will not be a thing of the past. Click here for more info!
Anesthesia machines are essential instruments in hospitals, but they can also be an extremely high fire risk due to the oxygen levels they generate. Oxygen speeds up combustion, and any spark or heat source near the machine can ignite. To reduce the danger, performing periodic maintenance of these devices and instructing staff on how to use them properly is vital. Additionally, any flammable materials must be kept away from machines for anesthesia.
Extension Cord Daisy Chains
Extension cords are common in various hospitals and are commonly used to connect several equipment. However, using extension cords in this manner is an infraction of safety guidelines. Extension cords may become overheated, which could cause fire hazards. Additionally, they could cause trip hazards and be unable to power certain equipment. Hospitals should avoid using extension cords and use separate power lines for each piece of equipment when possible.
Inadequate Fire Training
A lack of training in fire safety or awareness in hospital personnel could lead to fire-related incidents. Often, fires can start small but become catastrophic when staff members aren’t aware of how to respond or utilize equipment to fight fires. Training on fire safety and drills for all employees, even night shift workers, must be a requirement in hospitals. The training should include reacting during a fire, using fire extinguishers, and evacuating patients safely.
Gas Cylinders And Medical Oxygen Compliance
As per the National Fire Protection Association, hospital fires result from medical oxygen and gas cylinders more frequently than other causes. In fact, over a five-year interval, gas cylinders and medical oxygen were the cause of more than 25% of hospital fires.
While the reasons behind these fires are varied, the improper storage and security of gas cylinders and medical oxygen are usually the cause. To stop fires, it is essential to ensure the gas cylinders and medical oxygen are safely stored and secured.
Some suggestions for safe storage and security of medical oxygen, for example:
- Storage of gas cylinders as well as medical oxygen inside a cool space
- Secure gas cylinders and medical oxygen so they can’t be tossed over.
- Examine medical oxygen for leaks regularly.
These easy tips will help you avoid hospital fires caused by gas cylinders and medical oxygen.
Storage Of Combustible Materials
Unsafe storage of combustible items like cloth, paper, and even plastics can result in hospital fires. The materials must be stored in secure, designated, and fire-proof storage spaces and away from sources of ignition or heat. Further, it is important to implement waste disposal procedures to prevent these substances from accumulating and posing a fire risk.
Faulty Or Poorly Maintained Fire Safety Systems
A malfunctioning fire alarm or a faulty sprinkler system could significantly increase the likelihood of a fire spreading within the hospital. Regular testing and maintenance of fire safety equipment, including alarms, extinguishers, and sprinkler systems, are vital. If the systems aren’t functioning properly, a small fire could quickly spiral out of control.