§ Dr. David Owen
There were four minor outbreaks in one ward at St. Clement's Hospital between 24th February and 8th April, involving damage to curtains, bedding and a wardrobe. On the early morning of 15th April, an outbreak caused extensive damage in a 16-bed domitory in the same ward, and this was followed on the next night by two further minor fires, in that ward and another nearby, causing damage to clothing and bedding. In the minor outbreaks the fire was brought under control immediately on discovery. In all cases the alarm was raised and patients were speedily evacuated by ward staff. No one suffered any harm.
The police are investigating the series of outbreaks with the full co-operation of the fire brigade and of the health authority's staff.
The wards involved are compartmented, have fire-resistant doors, and the curtain materials are fire-resistant. These safety features, which helped confine the outbreaks, are being enhanced by the programme already under way, which provides smoke detection devices in all wards in the hospital. I am satisfied that the arrangements for training staff on action to be taken in case of fire have proved effective and that the local management has taken appropriate action to minimise the danger from any further outbreak to patients in its care.