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Hospital fire raises questions

Wednesday 23 September 2015 | Published in Regional


APIA – A fire at Samoa’s new hospital building that forced patients to be evacuated two weeks ago could have easily been avoided through proper maintenance of the building.

The fire started from a room, which controls the Moto‘otua Hospital hospital’s public address system and security surveillance system. It was put out just before it reached oxygen containers nearby.

More than 40 patients in Acute 7 and 8 had to be evacuated while the Fire and Emergency Services Authority battled the blaze.

Fire Services Commissioner, Lelevaga Fouina Mupo, said the fire could have had catastrophic consequences had it not been put out quickly.

According to the Commissioner, the fire started from the control room and it spread quickly.

During an interview with the Samoa Observer, Tautua MP and Whip, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, said problems at the hospital are not new.

Leala recalled that when his mother was admitted at the hospital a month ago, there were problems with the air conditioning.

“That fault has been in there for a while and it was just a matter of time,” said Leala.

“My mother was at the hospital last month and I had noticed they had the air conditioning off for three days because of those problems. They should’ve acted on it then.”

Leala said the fire could have been deadly had it reached the oxygen containers.

“Rather than being defensive, they should admit to their mistake so the members of the public know what happened and we can work forward,” he said.

“I think the fire could’ve been avoided with regular maintenance work especially with a building that is at the centre of health and has hundreds of people coming in and out.”

A member of the Parliament’s Finance committee, Leala said there is money allocated in the budget for maintenance work at the hospital.

Given that, he said there would have been no excuse if something had happened.

Besides, Leala said that with the building being less than two years old, such damage and accidents should not be expected at this time.

Several patients told the media that they smelt burnt rubber in the early hours of the morning before the fire was noticed.

“I was buying coffee from the shop across from the hospital when I smelt something burning, but I could not see any flames,” said Mandy Fruean of Vaivase whose child is a patient at the Children’s Ward.

The flames destroyed the interior of the hospital’s main control circuit board room, but fortunately the fire service team arrived in time to spray the room before the flames reached oxygen containers and the main power machine.

The room was reportedly under the supervision of a Chinese team working on the construction of the hospital.