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Fire Leads to Ward Evacuation

Fire Leads to Ward Evacuation

Tairawhiti District Health evacuated 14 children and their families from the Children’s Ward yesterday afternoon after a fire was discovered in a waste disposal room.

No one was injured during the fire which was quickly quelled by Gisborne Hospital’s fire sprinkler system.

TDH Chief Executive Jim Green said staff responded promptly and appropriately when the fire was discovered.

“They moved quickly to ensure the safety of patients, their families and staff. The entire ward was evacuated in under five minutes.”

Mr Green said the fire caused minimal damage to the waste disposal room which is used mainly for washing hospital apparatus and to store soiled linen.

He said more disruption was caused by the sprinkler system that was automatically activated by the fire’s heat - than the fire itself.

“A team of people swung into action following the all clear from the Fire Service to clear the water left by the sprinklers.”

Patients returned to the Children’s Ward three hours after they were evacuated. The regular paediatric clinic, and patients waiting for ear surgery, were accommodated in an area of the ward not affected by the fire.

Mr Green said TDH staff are well trained in evacuation procedures.

“Yesterday’s situation acts as a stark reminder why TDH regularly runs fire drills and operates a fire protection system which includes smoke detectors, sprinklers, fire doors and alarms.”

Mr Green said as is TDH’s normal practice, a review into how the fire began and the subsequent response, will be held.

At this stage Mr Green said it was understood the fire started after disposed rags coated with linseed oil spontaneously ignited.

Earlier in the day linseed oil was used by staff to rejuvenate wooden building blocks used by children in the play area.

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