A major fire accident was averted recently at an operation theatre in King George Hospital, Andhra Pradesha��s biggest government hospital, with the timely intervention of the staff present. The main cause of the fire was an electrical short-circuit since contractors had not used star-rated electrical wiring and instruments to cut costs.

The case of King George Hospital threw light on the fact that none of the 38 government hospitals in Visakhapatnam, including the 20 in the GVMC limits, has fire NOC, said Regional Fire Safety Officer GVMC E Swamy. Of the 253 private hospitals, 213 have not obtained the NOC.

Coming to the cinemas, multiplexes and shopping malls, almost all have the required firefighting equipment in place and have obtained the NOC from the department, but what is observed is that the fire exits remained locked due to security reasons, presenting a liability.

When it comes to function halls, 85% have not obtained fire NOC. In Visakhapatnam GVMC limits, there are about 98 function halls and of them, 45 are government-owned, with no NOC.

However, due to the strict enforcement of the DEO and officers from the higher education department, schools and colleges have stuck to the norms.

Giving an example for hospitals above 10 m height, Swamy said the basic requirements are the sufficient number of extinguishers in each floor, hose reels on each floor, landing walls, automatic smoke detectors, sprinklers, 10,000 litres terrace tank, 50,000 litres underground tank, 1620 lpp pump and jockey pump. The firefighting equipment primarily depends on the type of occupancy (school, hospital etc) and the height of the building. National Building Code (NBC) has laid out norms for safety in each case.

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