Nova Scotia

Bridgewater worst hospital for fire violations

The South Shore Regional Hospital has been told to fix 60 fire violations, ranging from blocked exits to too much clutter.

The South Shore Regional Hospital has been told to fix 60 fire violations, ranging from blocked exits to too much clutter.

Provincial fire inspectors noted the deficiencies in November as part of their inspections of hospitals around Nova Scotia.

Documents obtained by CBC News show that the hospital in Bridgewater had the most violations under the provincial Fire Safety Act — double the number at the hospital with the second most violations.

The list includes five blocked exits, a shortage of portable fire extinguishers, a need to extend the sprinkler system, and a lot of clutter.

The inspector also ordered two patients moved to safer areas because one was in a hallway and the other was in a space normally used for storing stretchers.

Robert Barss, manager of facilities for the South Shore District Health Authority, said that was probably done in an emergency.

"At the time there was probably an overflow in those departments and they had no choice but to put them there until they had adequate beds to put the patients in," Barss told CBC News.

Fire inspectors found more violations at larger hospitals than at smaller ones. That's not too surprising given their size, said Harold Pothier, the province's acting fire marshal.

 "A hospital may be a multi-storied building in which there is a lot more area to cover and where items can be found and need to be addressed," he said.

The smaller facilities each had six to 12 deficiencies, the documents show.

Of the 13 hospitals inspected, six are now fully compliant. The others are either working on repairs or have requests in to the Department of Health and Wellness to fund major renovations.

The South Shore health district has spent between $15,000 and $20,000 to address problems noted by the fire marshal's office. Barss said all but four of the deficiencies at the Bridgewater hospital have been fixed and more work will be done once the parts come in.

The Health Department has set aside $3 million in next year's budget to address fire and safety issues at hospitals across the province.

The provincial fire marshal's office stepped up its inspections after a stinging rebuke from the auditor general.

Since May, when Jacques Lapointe released his report, inspectors have been to five times as many hospitals as the whole three-year period examined by the auditor general.