OurHealth noticed that the last time the extinguisher had been serviced was in September 2011.

A part-time student nurse, who did not want to be named, said she noticed and reported the date to her superiors last year.

“When I started working at the clinic in 2012 I noticed the extinguisher’s service date had expired and that it needed to be serviced. I reported it, but nothing has been done about it in all this time.

“I’m new in the profession and I find it such a disappointment to see such negligence from the people who should be acting as inspiration and an example to me. If the fire extinguisher is not serviced, the patients are not safe.”

Tshegofatso Molawa, a patient at the clinic, said it had never occurred to him to check the extinguisher: “I always think of the clinic as a safe place. This is quite a surprise to me.”

Thando Mosia, another patient said: “This should teach us to be more conscious of our surroundings. I never thought to look at something like that, as I expect the clinic to take care of such maintenance matters.”

Chief Fire Officer at the Mangaung Fire Department Theuns van der Westhuizen told OurHealth that the South African National Standards (SANS) require owners to service the fire extinguisher once a year.

“Having a fire extinguisher that has not been serviced might not work in time of a fire and thereby putting people in danger,” he said.

The Provincial Department of Health was not available to comment.