“Civil Defense put into effect the emergency evacuation plan of a Jeddah hospital when a fire tore through its nearby medical waste warehouse early Sunday morning, authorities said.
Six firefighting teams rushed to the Maternity and Children’s Hospital and battled the fire for about 90 minutes during which the general power was cut from the hospital as a precautionary measure, said Col. Abdullah Al-Jiddawi.
Emergency generators were started to keep vital departments in the hospital running.
Fortunately, all seems to have been resolved without loss of life or seriuos impact on the hospital activities.
Fire in clinical waste stores is fortunately rare, and is similarly rare in treatment facilities also. Despite the occasional cigarette end – waste carts in satellite storage areas can often be seen to have been used as ashtrays – and the possibility of some chemical-type ignition, fire rarely occurs. The waste has a high calorific value, much of it is dry and there is a high percentage of flammables including paper and thin plastics.
Many hospitals store waste outside though in Jeddah internal storage with some refrigeration would be the preferred option. Fire precautions remain essential, though in my experience are minimal at best, and so often absent.
Fire is a serious and significant, though fortunately infrequent, risk. It places lives at risk, and may have a huge impact on hospital activities or commercial operations. Perhaps this is another issue for precautionary review.