Structural repairs needed at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital after fire

Damage caused by the fire at Johannesburg's Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital.
Damage caused by the fire at Johannesburg's Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

A visual assessment shows that some structural repair is required at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, after the recent fire on the dispensary side of the building.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday that the fire, which saw nearly 700 patients evacuated, had destroyed more than R40m worth of medical stock and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The department of infrastructure development and property management said on Friday it had conducted a visual assessment of what needs to be done.

“A decision was made to prop [up] the collapsed slab to allow SAPS to conduct their fire investigation, which includes forensic investigations. Once concluded, structural engineers will conduct a thorough condition assessment, provide a report with recommendations on remedial work that is required. This will include structural repairs.

“On visual assessment, however, the damaged portions will need structural repairing. At this stage we are unable to confirm how long the structural assessment will take and when this process will be concluded. This is because the assessment also involves laboratory tests, the results of which will determine the extent of damage and repair work needed to be undertaken,” it said.

On Wednesday, the cleaning of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and air ducts commenced inside the entire hospital. Once the cleaning is complete, an air quality test will confirm whether the facility is safe for occupation and use, said the department.

“We envisage that this work will be complete sometime during the next week.”

The department said the hospital's fire protection systems were operational when an inspection was carried out last month, rejecting an assertion that the hospital’s fire hydrants were not working.

“Fire protection systems such as hydrants, extinguishers [and] hose reels are inspected monthly. These were last inspected in March 2021.

“There is a total of 1,003 [pieces of] firefighting equipment in the hospital area and 50 in the administration block, excluding the nurses’ residence and the admin blocks. These are made up of 75 fire hydrants, 295 hose reels, 575 DCP fire extinguishers and 58 CO2 distribution points.”

The department added that its team “is working around the clock to ensure that all processes are complete to allow the reopening of the hospital”.



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