Newsletter June 2021: Oxygen Fire Risk Warning for ICU Units

Chief Editor’s note: We are pleased to host in this issue a short report from the Patient Safety and Quality Committee. We would like to encourage other ESAIC committees to contribute to our Newsletter by sending material related to their activity.

Alex Rawlings (on behalf of the ESAIC Patient Safety and Quality Committee)

In the last 5 years, there have been multiple incidents of serious fires breaking out in ICU units. The recent tragedy in Ibn al-Khatib Hospital in Baghdad, Iraq, in which 82 people lost their lives underlines the seriousness of this risk. Oxygen-rich environments in often overcrowded ICU units create an atmosphere of high risk for outbreaks of fires. In such a high oxygen environment, fires will start more easily and burn more fiercely. Fires can start through electrical activity from mobile phones, computers, electrical sockets or even faulty circuitry in ventilators or other essential equipment. The presence of other inflammatory materials such as alcohol gel can increase these risk factors.

In 2020 the European Board of Anaesthesiology issued a press release after one such incident occurred in a hospital in Romania. In this release, they included a link to an NHS authored Risk Assessment document designed to help staff identify and prevent key areas of risk and minimise the chance of any serious incident occurring.

After the fire in Iraq, the ESAIC would like to support this message, making sure that all members are aware of these risks so they can take appropriate measures wherever possible.
Below you can find the link to the original EBA press release, the NHS Fire Risk Assessment guidance, and some other useful information.

UEMS Statement and Press Release

Fire Risk Assessment: Guidance on completing specific FRA for temporary wards provided for Covid-19 treatment or care

Fire Protection Association Article


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1 reply

prafulla agnihotri
All OT and ICU should have facility to for emergency evacuation big staff and patient and sufficiently ventilated with adequate air changes. All the sources of the short circuit must be looked after and relative humidity must be maintained so as not to support combustion.
8 months ago

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