Does your care home comply with fire safety regulations, and would you know what to do in the event of a fire? Well, our fire safety tips will make it easy to ensure you’re fully compliant.
Of course, the safety of your residents, staff and visitors is of the utmost importance, meaning you’ll need plenty of safeguards in place. In a care or nursing home, fire safety is often the responsibility of the manager, and for most, it’ll be near the top of their to-do list.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires all workplaces, businesses and public buildings to have a fire risk assessment carried out on their premises which is then reviewed regularly. This ensures you’re aware of every fire risk which exists, are taking the correct action, and have the correct fire safety equipment from fire extinguishers and fire alarms, with an action plan in place.
Unfortunately, there are often cases where care homes are in breach of fire regulations, more-often-than-not unwittingly. In 2017, a care home in Cheshire was fined £50,000, and in 2004, fourteen elderly residents died tragically in their Scottish care home.
But it is the events of Grenfell Tower which have brought the issue of preventing and handling a fire to the forefront of a lot of minds, highlighting how important fire safety measures are.
The first, easiest, and cheapest way of preventing a fire is to keep things which burn well away from things which could start a fire. This means keeping combustibles such as furniture, furnishings, cardboard boxes, medical supplies, cleaning products, and waste well away from heaters, cooking equipment, and naked flames.
It’s important to store hazardous items as directed and to have electrical and gas equipment maintained according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
If a fire were to start, you’d need to be able to contain it, helping to reduce the risk to life and property. This is frequently achieved through design but is often ineffective due to open fire doors.
This is why door closers are essentials and holding the door open with a door wedge is unacceptable. However, door retaining systems do exist which hold a door open to provide access but which shut in a fire emergency.
Fire Detection and Warning
Having a fire alarm system installed and maintained is the best option. In a care home, this should have L1 coverage which ensures that sounders are loud enough to wake people from their sleep, with detectors in all rooms and escape routes. As an addition, a vibrating pillow alarm can be used to wake those who are hard of hearing, as well as beacons providing a visual warning.
With a professionally installed system, you are then able to have it connected to external devices. For example, this could close all internal doors, unlock other doors, prevent the use of lifts, and activate emergency lighting.
Should the power be cut, you’ll still need to show people the way to the nearest exit and allow them to make their way out safely. Emergency lighting will kick in and show everyone the way regardless, along with directional fire exit signs.
Fire extinguishing equipment is essential, and you must make sure the correct type is located near the applicable risk. Generally, this will consist of various extinguishers throughout with fire blankets in all kitchen areas.
As a rule of thumb for fire extinguishers:
- Water extinguishers are suitable for general fires including paper, cardboard, rubbish, and furnishings;
- Foam extinguishers can additionally be used for flammable liquids;
- Powder extinguishers are versatile, lighter, and safe to use around electrical equipment as well as flammable liquid and gas, although not recommended for indoor use;
- On electrical equipment, CO2 extinguishers are the safest method and will prevent further damage to the electronics.
Each extinguisher also needs an extinguisher identification sign installed just above it, and should be commissioned upon installation and then serviced annually by a trained professional.
Fire Action Plan
Everyone must be aware of what they should do in an emergency, from where the assembly point is, to how to assist those who need help evacuating, and who calls the fire brigade. And part of the plan will be ensuring you have trained fire wardens and staff who have received evacuation training.
The best way to then familiarise everyone with your plan is to carry out fire drills. It is also the best way of discovering any issues that may exist with the plan, rather than waiting until it is too late.
Don’t forget, when you need help with your fire risk assessment, we’re here to help, whatever your requirements. Click here to our fire risk assessment options, or contact us for a quote tailored to your needs.