Johor hospital riddled with over a dozen fire hazards

Hospital Sultanah AminahPETALING JAYA: Tuesday’s fire at Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA) in Johor was not the first – there have been more than seven fires in the past four years.

The Star quoted a source saying that the previous incidents occurred at the intensive care unit (ICU), on the ground floor, and a mart, but did not cause any death or injuries.

“All this should have sounded the alarm bell for the hospital authorities to carry out a detailed check, as this is a very old building,” said the source.

According to another source, there were several minor fires at the ICU area of the hospital in recent weeks before Tuesday’s tragic blaze that took the lives of the patients warded there. The previous incidents were believed to have been caused by an electrical short circuit, electrical overloading, and even cigarette butts, said the source.

The report added that hospital authorities had been informed about the presence of more than a dozen fire hazards in the building, including the lack of a proper sprinkler system, escape paths that were too narrow, and emergency exits that were blocked.

Johor Fire and Rescue Department director Othman Abdullah told the daily that he planned to meet with hospital authorities soon to discuss issues related to the safety of the building.

State Health and Environment committee chairman Ayob Rahman also said that HSA had reached its maximum capacity with no more room for expansion, and that it was time the federal government considered building a new hospital known as Sultanah Aminah II, which the state government had proposed two years ago, at a cost of RM750 million.

Tuesday’s tragedy saw six people killed, and several others injured.

All those who died in the blaze were ICU patients, who hospital staff and firemen could not save in time as the fire razed quickly through the ward on the second floor after breaking out at the unit’s treatment room.

The fire also caused patients in other floors, including new mothers, to be evacuated.

A minor fire broke out again at the hospital yesterday, caused by sparks in the wiring system, which saw smoke engulf the operation theatre on the first floor.

The back-to-back incidents have raised concerns over the safety of hospitals in the country, particularly that of “old” hospitals.