Sunday, October 2

Annual fire drill a must for all government buildings, especially hospitals — Bomba chief

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SIBU: It is mandatory for all government buildings, especially hospitals, to have fire evacuation exercise every year, stated state Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) director Nor Hisham Mohammad.

He stresses that this is a requirement under the Government General Order.

“As far as I am concerned, Sibu Hospital carries out this exercise annually,” he told The Borneo Post when contacted yesterday.

Nor Hisham was asked how often government hospitals were required to hold fire drills. The question was raised following the incident on Saturday morning where more than 1,000 patients, staff members and visitors were evacuated from Sibu Hospital due to a fire breakout.

The incident occurred just as the hospital was gearing up for a fire drill at Ward 32, scheduled for 10.30am.

To a question whether there was any requirement for the wiring system at government hospitals to be checked after a certain number of years, Nor Hisham said: “(There’s) no (such requirement) so far, but the best practice would be to carry out full inspection after 10 years (of installation of wiring).”

Adding on, he said to ensure safety, the medical staff of government hospitals should undergo emergency courses conducted by Fire and Rescue Department.

“Such courses are important, so that the hospital staff would be aware of what to do during an emergency,” Nor Hisham stressed.

Asked about the necessity for hospitals to switch off their centralised air-conditioning system in the event of a fire, he said: “This would depend on the location of the fire and also the air-conditioning design.

“If the building is equipped with the sprinkler system and centralised cooling (system), the AHU (air-handling unit) should switch off automatically.”

On the Saturday fire at Sibu Hospital, Nor Hisham said a full investigation is on-going.

It is claimed that the fire was caused by a short-circuit affecting an air-conditioning unit at Male Ward 23 on Level 2.

“This is a preliminary statement. Full investigation will be carried out,” Nor Hisham said.