Hospitals Don't Burn Down

Hospitals Don't Burn Down is a 1978 short dramatised documentary film directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith about a fire at a hospital.

Hospitals Don't Burn Down
Directed byBrian Trenchard-Smith
Written byAnne Brooksbank
Chris McGill
Film Australia
Veteran Affairs Department
Release date
Running time
24 mins


A tossed cigarette from a patient causes fire to break out after midnight in a multi-storey hospital, cutting the top floors off from escape. It spreads quickly and despite the prompt action of the Fire Department, lack of fire safety training results in several fatalities.


The movie was widely screened around the world and won a number of prizes. Trenchard Smith says it is one of the movies of which he is most proud:

[It] won all sorts of industrial safety awards all over the world, and was Australia's highest-selling industrial film for 25 years, used all over the world. We staged a fire, cutting a multi-story hospital in half, bursting from the laundry chute out onto one floor. And the film was designed to have a whole series of lessons to be learned in a lecture afterwards. There were alarming incidents of smoking-related fires in their hospitals. It actually became a fire-safety film worldwide. It's actually a film I’m proud to have made, and I made it for very little money, but I’m very pleased that I spent the four months that I did making that. I was told that one hospital changed their arrangements after seeing the film, and moved the non-ambulatory patients from the fourth floor to the ground floor, and several months later, the fourth floor caught fire.[2]


  1. "COMPACT". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 21 June 1978. p. 57. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  2. "Interview with Brian Trenchard-Smith", Ithaca, 26 November 2012 accessed 3 February 2013

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