Fire Safety in Care Homes

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Whilst fire safety is important in all settings, it’s particularly crucial in care homes, as these facilities house vulnerable residents who may take longer to evacuate in an emergency. In this environment where every second counts, it’s essential to have the correct fire safety measures in place. But do care homes require different fire safety protocols when compared to standard commercial premises? And what fire safety equipment must be present in care facilities?

The team at Pyrotec has written this article to break down these requirements so that you can easily understand what is expected of your care home.

Why is fire safety so important in care homes?

Many care home residents may have limited mobility and additional needs that slow down an emergency evacuation. By prioritising fire safety measures, vulnerable residents are afforded extra time to escape, helping to minimise loss of life.

The dire consequences of neglecting fire safety in a care home is demonstrated by the Rosepark Care Home Fire of 2004, in which 14 elderly residents lost their lives. A subsequent investigation deemed that these deaths were largely preventable, and some residents may have been saved if an effective fire safety plan had been in place. 

What fire safety measures must be in place in a care home?

Care homes in the UK must have a number of fire safety measures in place, as stipulated in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005:

Fire risk assessment: An annual fire risk assessment must be carried out by a qualified assessor. During this inspection, any potential hazards or high-risk occupants will be identified. Following this, an emergency plan will be prepared that provides recommendations for how to reduce risk.

Fire wardens: Every commercial property must have a number of designated fire wardens present and, as a high-risk property, there is specific guidance in place for care homes. Official guidelines recommend:

  • For care homes with 15 residents/employees or less, at least one fire warden should be present.
  • For premises with 15-50 residents/employees, there must be two fire wardens present.
  • For every additional 50 people, there must be one extra fire warden on shift. For example, if there are 150 people inside your building, there must be four fire wardens.

On a day-to-day basis, fire wardens must identify and monitor potential fire hazards and conduct regular fire drills. During an emergency, fire wardens must assist with the evacuation and ensure all residents are accounted for. All fire wardens must be provided with the correct fire safety training to prepare them for this role.

Fire doors: Self-closing fire doors must be installed in all areas that provide access to a stairwell or corridor, or any exit that leads directly out of the building.

Fire alarms: Fire alarms must be fitted in multiple locations across the building to provide a crucial early warning. These should be tested regularly to ensure they are in good working condition.

Fire safety equipment: UK fire safety legislation states that you must have ‘appropriate firefighting equipment’ readily available, including fire extinguishers and fire blankets.

Emergency lighting: Emergency lighting and visible fire safety signage should be in place to guide occupants to the nearest emergency exit.

Fire suppression systems: Depending on the size and layout of your care home, some premises may require fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers, to be installed throughout the building. 

What must be considered in an evacuation plan for care homes?

When creating an evacuation plan for your care home, the needs of each individual resident must be assessed and, if necessary, PEEPs (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans) should be put in place for those most vulnerable. These should be regularly reviewed every six months or whenever there is a change to the resident’s medication, health or mobility. All employees must be aware of which residents will require the most assistance in an emergency and there must be an appropriate number of staff on every shift. Regular fire drills and training should also be carried out to ensure staff are equipped to handle a number of different scenarios.

 

Here at Pyrotec, we provide a comprehensive range of fire safety equipment and services to care homes across Brighton, Eastbourne, Crawley and beyond. Our BAFE-accredited team can ensure your premises comply with all UK regulations, simply contact us today for more information.

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