With care homes usually housing the elderly, vulnerable young people or those with special needs or disabilities, evacuating the building in an emergency can understandably be a challenge.
Thankfully, there are ways to minimise the likelihood of a fire and help everyone escape promptly if necessary.
Fire risk assessment
It’s vital that a fire risk assessment is carried out to identify potential risks, put protective measures in place, and ensure both residents and employees are safe.
The assessment must be carried out by a competent person with a strong understanding of the business and the way it’s run. The following areas must be considered:
- compliance with fire safety legislation
- adequacy of control measures
- fire safety management systems
- means of escape in case of fire
- signage and warning notices, eg fire exit routes
- fire detection systems
- fire alarm systems
- fixed (sprinklers) and portable (extinguishers) fire-fighting equipment
- structural features – such as bottlenecks, protected stairways/escape routes, final exit doors
- control of sources of ignition
- fire safety training
- maintenance systems
- record keeping/documentation
The fire risk assessment may highlight potential issues that have gone unnoticed for a while, often posing significant risks to both employees and those living in the care home.
Once you’ve conducted your fire risk assessment, it’s time to put plans in place to minimise the likelihood of a fire. Potential hazards must be removed or resolved and all electrical equipment must be tested to ensure it does not pose a risk.
Mobility scooters are perhaps one of the most common causes of fires in care homes. Fire fighters often attend care home fires where mobility scooters set alight while left to charge in corridors, hallways and staircases. When potential hazards are left in such locations it can be difficult for residents and workers to escape the building.
Means of escape
In the unlikely event of a fire, helping everyone to evacuate can understandably be difficult. After all, some residents may be entirely dependent on others and may be unable to leave the premises by themselves. Other residents may become distressed and even refuse to leave the building.
As a result, it’s vital that you assess the dependency and personal needs of the people in your care and implement this information into your escape plan. It’s imperative that all staff members are fully trained in evacuation procedure as the safety of residents will often rely entirely on them.
Dependent residents be best best suited in rooms on the ground floor and, if possible, close to fire exits so that they can be assisted quickly. In some cases, it may be necessary to increase the number of escape routes on the premises to make it easier for people to exit the building.
Implementing a fire safety plan in a care home setting can be a challenge.
At Total Fire Services we specialise in helping care home providers across the UK to ensure their premises are as safe as possible. Whether you need help conducting a thorough risk assessment or you’d like support in implementing an evacuation plan, we can help you meet government legislation and protect those in your care. To learn more, please get in touch with our team.