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Fire Safety Checklist For Care Homes

Fire Safety Checklist For Care Homes

In any building fire safety can be a matter of life and death – and never more so than in premises such as care homes where the residents are particularly vulnerable due to age and potential restricted mobility. These establishments must take every possible precaution against fire emergency, and have in place the most efficient and effective measures and procedures to deal with the situation if a fire outbreak should occur – here are some important aspects of fire safety in care homes to consider:

Fire Risk Assessment – Every care home MUST perform a fire risk assessment on the premises on an annual basis – this assessment must be formally recorded and written down. The assessment needs to be reviewed in the event of ANY changes to the premises’ layout or configuration. This assessment process forms the basis of all your other fire safety plans and is essential in keeping your premises and residents safe in the event of any fire outbreak – ALL measures recommended from the assessment MUST be implemented and maintained!

Fire Alarm System – All care home establishments need to have installed a high-level fire alarm system that provides automatic fire, smoke, and heat detection in EVERY room within the care home – these are often referred to as L1 fire alarm systems. These systems provide the highest level of detection and protection needed to allow staff and residents the greatest amount of time to safely evacuate the building in the event of a fire outbreak. Your fire alarm system must be serviced AT LEAST every six months by a qualified fire alarm engineer and be tested weekly to ensure full and effective working order is maintained.

Fire Fighting Equipment – Every care home must be equipped with the appropriate fire extinguishers located in the most effective and relevant positions within the building – different types of fire need to be tackled with different type extinguishers, so ensure that all fire eventualities are catered for with a variety of extinguishers. You should also consider the ‘ease of use’ of these extinguishers – ensure that all occupants are capable of handling them in the case of an emergency. All fire extinguishers need to be serviced annually and replaced when appropriate.

Other fire-fighting equipment, such as fire blankets, should be readily accessible to both staff and residents within the building.

Fire Doors – A vital part of a care home’s fire safety precautions is the installation of appropriate and effective fire doors. These security fire doors are available in different levels of protection – a FD30 fire door will contain all harmful elements of a fire outbreak for up to thirty minutes, whilst a FD60 will offer the same level of protection for up to sixty minutes. Fire doors are an essential element of the fire evacuation strategy and plan – they can be connected to the fire alarm system which will invoke automatic opening and closing of the doors in the event of a fire emergency. All fire doors must close properly and fully and be inspected on a regular basis – any faults or damages MUST be repaired or replaced immediately!

Fire doors for commercial buildings such as care homes, should be sourced from established and reputable timber door manufacturers who will provide proof of the successful thorough testing of the doors’ capabilities and protection with the appropriate certification displayed.

Training – All your care home staff need to be trained in every aspect of the fire evacuation plan and procedures – appropriate fire marshals should be identified from within the staff and duly appointed. A care home will likely need staff to be trained in ‘horizontal evacuation’ as well as the standard building evacuation plan. In a standard evacuation all building occupants will leave the premises immediately on hearing the alarm – however, in an environment where everybody may not be ‘mobile’ or fully able to egress the premises themselves, staff will have to be capable of evacuating people more gradually and systematically in a ‘horizontal’ evacuation. All your staff should be trained and competent using evacuation aids such as mattresses and evacuation chairs.

Fire evacuation training should be regularly delivered and practised with all staff, and any new team members trained as soon as possible.

Establishing and acting upon this checklist should ensure your care home is as safe from fire as it could feasibly be.

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