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Alarm Ignored, Delayed Patient Evacuation as Fire Broke Out at Iranian Hospital

June 20, 2024
Sina Ghanbarpour
3 min read
A fire ripped through a private hospital in the northern Iranian city of Rasht on Tuesday, resulting in the death of at least nine people and injuring over 120 others. Most of the deceased were admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit (ICU)
A fire ripped through a private hospital in the northern Iranian city of Rasht on Tuesday, resulting in the death of at least nine people and injuring over 120 others. Most of the deceased were admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit (ICU)
The blaze broke out early Tuesday morning at Ghaem 250 Hospital in Rasht, the capital of Gilan Province
The blaze broke out early Tuesday morning at Ghaem 250 Hospital in Rasht, the capital of Gilan Province
This situation is reminiscent of the collapse of the Shazand mine in Arak, which has resulted in the deaths of four people
This situation is reminiscent of the collapse of the Shazand mine in Arak, which has resulted in the deaths of four people

A fire ripped through a private hospital in the northern Iranian city of Rasht on Tuesday, resulting in the death of at least nine people and injuring over 120 others. Most of the deceased were admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit (ICU).

The blaze broke out early Tuesday morning at Ghaem 250 Hospital in Rasht, the capital of Gilan Province. 

A companion of a patient who was admitted on the hospital's second floor said that the staff and nurses heard the sound of an alarm but ignored it, preventing patients from leaving.

Sadegh Niaraki, Gilan's chief prosecutor, told state TV that eight of the deceased were patients in the hospital's ICU.

The patient's companion emphasized that when smoke from the fire spread throughout the hospital, the medical staff initially prioritized their own evacuation over the patients'.

The hospital was closed on Wednesday by order of the city's prosecutor.

A report from the head of the Rasht Fire Department on how the fire was notified to them, alongside the accounts from patients' companions, hax raised questions. 

Shahram Momeni, head of the Rasht Fire Department, said that Ghaem Hospital met safety standards, including fire extinguishers and emergency exit routes. 

However, the hospital did not have an automatic sprinkler system, which was not required at the time of licensing.

Momeni informed that the fire at Ghaem Hospital was reported at 1:13 am. 

According to Momeni, all dead patients were in the ICU. They died during the power outage that "disabled their life-support equipment, not from burns, smoke inhalation, or suffocation."

A patient reported that the fire alarm sounded at 12:40 am. However, staff and nurses on the second floor dismissed the alarm, assuming it was false, and prevented patients and their companions from leaving the premises.

Noting a delayed reporting to the fire department, Momeni said, "We are currently investigating whether the claim of a late report is true. We are reviewing available videos from the hospital's surveillance cameras. Our experts will determine if there was a delay and, if so, its duration."

These incidents highlight the critical importance of rigorous safety protocols and effective emergency response systems in high-risk facilities.

This situation is reminiscent of the collapse of the Shazand mine in Arak, which has resulted in the deaths of four people. 

The alarm over safety issues was raised before the fire incident at Ghaem Hospital, following an incident at a rehabilitation center in northern Iran that resulted in the deaths of 36 people. 

The incident occurred around 6:00 am on November 3, 2023, when no staff were present, no fire alarms or automatic extinguishing systems were active, and the doors were locked for the clients. 

A police investigation later revealed that the fire was intentional.

Unlike the fire at Gandhi Hospital in Tehran on January 25, the fire at Ghaem Hospital occurred without any prior written warnings about safety defects. 

Initial reports suggest that the Gandhi Hospital fire was caused by a cigarette butt left by workers, which ignited the building's composite facade. 

Further investigations by the Tehran Fire Department found that the hospital's fireboxes were empty, the automatic extinguishing system failed, and the fire alarm system was non-functional.

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