Fire safety in residential care and nursing homes
Care homes, nursing homes, hospices and supported living facilities provide help and support for vulnerable people. Reducing the risk of and from fire, is a fundamental duty of the management of these facilities. With the vulnerability of people in care, the need for appropriate, well-planned, practiced and well communicated fire evacuation procedures is essential.
Fire safety measures
Care homes are subject to the legislation as set out in The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.
Under the regulations, care homes must have:
- adequate means of escape
- emergency escape lighting
- appropriate fire detection warning systems
- sufficient fire-fighting equipment
- signs to help people identify escape routes and find firefighting equipment
- a written risk assessment carried out by a competent person
It is important to have the right safety measures in place for the situation. For example, a heavy, self-closing fire door could be problematic for staff and older or disabled people. Attaching a hold open device to the door that is wired into the fire alarm, or a battery operated hold open door retainer, such as Dorgard or Sonico Shuttle, allows the door to remain open for free and easy movement but will automatically release and close when the fire alarm sounds. For greater flexibility, so fire doors do not have to be fixed open all the time, installing a Freedor and Agrippa enables the door to swing freely like a normal door yet still close in the event of a fire alarm.
Care homes must carry out a fire risk assessment to identify fire safety risks and put measures in place to mitigate those risks. Care homes must make sure they have a detailed emergency plan for dealing with any fire situation so that staff know what to do if there is a fire.
In a residential care setting, it is likely that there will be people who are unable to escape unaided because of mobility, vision or hearing impairments or the effects of medication. It may therefore be necessary to use evacuation aids and specialist evacuation equipment including ski sheets, ski pads and evacuation chairs to allow non-ambulant residents to be safely and securely evacuated.
Fire safety preparation and training
In any residential care setting, care home, nursing home, hospice or supported living accommodation staff should be trained and confident in:
- preventing or limiting the risk of fire
- recognising fire hazards
- responding to an emergency
- competently and safely using evacuation aids and equipment
We offer fire safety consultancy and training services to help you to maintain a fire safe environment. We can carry out a fire risk assessment to identify the potential risks and measures you can put in place to lessen the risks. We also offer training for staff on the safe use of fire fighting equipment and evacuation aids and equipment.