Code Brown called for NT health facilities after fire destroys medical supplies warehouse in Berrimah

Code Brown called for NT health facilities after fire destroys medical supplies warehouse in Berrimah

The Northern Territory government has issued an emergency “Code Brown” for its health services, after a massive fire caused an estimated $30 million in damage to a warehouse storing medical supplies for Royal Darwin Hospital and other health centres. 

Emergency services were called to the large fire on College Road in the Darwin suburb of Berrimah at about 10:30am on Sunday, according to NT Chief Fire Officer Mark Spain. 

“On arrival, the building was already engulfed in fire,” he said. 

“Fire crews did manage to get inside to contain that fire, but it got away from them at that point in time.”

Mr Spain described the building as a “health storage facility” and that the “initial estimate” of the damage was $30 million. 

Code Brown called for NT health facilities after fire destroys medical supplies warehouse in Berrimah
The warehouse supplied the Royal Darwin, Palmerston, Katherine and Gove Hospitals. (ABC News: Mitchell Abram)

“At this stage, it’s early, but you can image [there were] a lot of medical supplies in there, we know that there were oxygen cylinders in there.

“They exploded later on into the fire so we kept a safe distance.

“All that is combustible material, that’s what produced the toxic smoke.”

NT Health declared the “Code Brown” alert, which is a nationally recognised emergency alert usually reserved for transport accidents, chemical spills, natural disasters and mass casualty events, on Sunday afternoon. 

Flames are seen above the roof of a building. The sky is black with thick smoke.
Chemicals inside the building produced plumes of “toxic smoke”.(ABC News: Dane Hirst)

“As a result of the fire, a Code Brown has been called across NT Health facilities and is expected to be in place for the next 24-48 hours,” NT Health said in a statement.

“A Code Brown is called when there is an external incident that requires a system-wide response. The Code Brown has been declared whilst it is established what supplies have been impacted.

“All hospitals remain open at this time and no patient services will be impacted.” 

The destroyed warehouse supplied the Royal Darwin, Palmerston, Katherine and Gove Hospitals, according to the statement. 

However, NT Health has “a number of warehouses in Darwin and across the Territory” to store its supplies. 

Water is sprayed into the roof of a white brick building. Smoke is billowing from the top.
The storage facility was already engulfed in fire when crews arrived. (ABC News: Mitchell Abram)

“The NT Health Incident Management Team has been established and is working to conduct a stocktake across its hospitals and health facilities to determine the level of medical supplies immediately available for patient care,” the statement said.

Mr Spain said he expects the fire will continue burning for a number of days. 

“We expect this fire, given the location of it and the structural integrity of the building, it will take two or three days before we can get on top of it,” he said.  

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-21/nt-berrimah-fire/101355120