A maintenance audit should be carried out on periodically on all public buildings to ensure safety, the Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) said today.
This was among the group’s suggestions made for the government to consider after the deadly fire at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) in Johor Baru which claimed six lives yesterday.
“IEM believes that a maintenance audit be carried out on a periodic basis on all public building to ensure the functionality of all the facilities. This is especially crucial in cases where the buildings are old and dilapidated,” IEM president Tan Yean Chin called said in a statement.
IEM also voiced its willingness to provide the necessary technical expertise and independent advice to authorities in reviewing the guidelines required to prevent similar accidents from recurring.
Among its suggestions, IEM recommended the hiring of a certified engineer for public buildings such as hospitals and other government buildings, to inspect building’s fire and life safety systems to ensure that these the security systems are operational, well-maintained and comply with safety requirements.
It also recommended high-risk areas in hospitals to be fitted with hazard detection systems.
“In additional to smoke detection system, oxygen detectors should be fitted. Oxygen detectors are important in areas where much oxygen is present or used.
“(An) enriched oxygen condition could make ordinary combustibles more easily ignitable. And when a fire happens, it makes the fire grow faster and spread quicker,” Tan said, also listing the need for a public address (PA) system to enable the building operators, security or fire officers to inform building occupants on any emergency situations and guide them on what to do.
“The older building by-laws do not prescribe such PA system requirements. The latest amendment of the Uniform Building By-Laws (of which Selangor and Terengganu have gazetted) however, mandates that a PA system is required for buildings such as hospitals,” Tan added.
He also urged policymakers to equip high-rise hospitals with occupant evacuation lifts which are fire-rated and designed to accommodate bedridden patients and those on stretchers.
Tan also urged for a check on the hospital’s wiring system, expressing concern that the wiring in old electrical systems may not possess the required safety features.
“One important safety feature that should be checked is the proper earth-fault protection. This device is a protection against electrical shock to patients as well as to prevent electrical faults from being an ignition source of fire,” he added.
Yesterday, fire had broken at the HSA around 9am, claiming six lives. Bernama reported that 294 patients and 193 hospital staff in the building were affected.
Earlier today, the state news agency reported that all staff and patients were evacuated from the hospital main building after smoke was detected at 1.45pm.
Police later confirmed that water from cleaning works on the second floor of the main building splashed into the electrical outlet in the operation theatre on the first floor, causing the smoke that was detected earlier this afternoon.
Source : The Heat Malaysia Online