In a statement that could increase the trouble for the SumHospital authorities further, Director General of Fire Service in Odisha, Binay Kumar Behera said the fire department was informed about the leaping flames 45 minutes after the incident.
“We were informed about the fire incident about 45 minutes after the fire was detected in the dialysis ward of the hospital. Had they called the fire department immediately, the casualty would have been much less,” Behera told reporters.
Seeking a special legislation to control fire in medical facilities and high-rise buildings, Behera said his department is not empowered to enforce the laws governing the fire safety measures in high-rise buildings, including hospitals and hotels.
Behera met top officials of the fire department from across the state in the wake of the Monday’s fire tragedy at the private hospital in Bhubaneswar, which so far has claimed 23 lives.
The official said fire safety certificate is mandatory for all government and private hospitals.
“But due to the lack of coordination between the authorities we still do not have a list of how many hospitals in the state are functioning without mandatory fire safety certificate,” he added.
Behera said his department had repeatedly informed the appropriate agencies about the violators.
“We can only complain but cannot file an FIR until a cognisable offence is made,” Behera said, adding his department had filed an FIR in connection with the erring Bhubaneswar hospital.
He said his office has recently received more than 270 applications for issuance of no-objection certificate.
“But we had to refer back at least 244 of those applications for inefficient fire safety measures,” Behera informed.