It’s a sad fact that those in our society who are the most vulnerable are also most at risk of being injured or dying in a fire.
In the case of residential care homes, and any other environments where vulnerable people rely on others for their safety, it is therefore essential that the Fire Safety Order is adhered to.
The Government has produced advice about completing a fire safety risk assessment for all employers, managers, occupiers and owners of premises where the main use of the building (or part of the building) is to provide residential care. It is intended for (non-domestic) residential premises with staff in attendance at all times and where most or all of the residents would require carer assistance to be safe in the event of a fire (i.e. where residents would not be able to make their way to a place of safety unaided).
These could include residential and nursing homes; rehabilitation premises providing residential treatment and care for addiction; care homes; and care homes with nursing (as defined by the Care Standards Act 2000).
For further advice and guidance on selecting a competent Fire Risk Assessor, please read A Guide to Choosing a Competent Fire Risk Assessor – Fire Sector Federation
The guide is not intended for day-care centres with no residential clients; sheltered accommodation where no care is provided; hospitals; or out-posted nursing care in single private dwellings.
Some simple things to check for
- Ensure that fire compartmentation is good and that fire will not spread. This may involve a more invasive fire risk assessment, especially in older buildings (looking above ceiling voids and under floors etc).
- Ensure that you have a comprehensive Fire Alarm system that conforms to BS 5839 Part 1.
- Ensure there are sufficient trained staff/carers who know how to react in case of fire and who can safely evacuate residents.
- Ensure staff are trained in using emergency evacuation equipment (slides, evac chairs etc).
- If using beds to evacuate, ensure that they will actually fit through openings.
- Ensure fire safety measures are in place at all times and maintained (never wedge fire doors open).
- Ensure exit routes are clear at all times and available for use.
- Fit a sprinkler system – it’s like having a firefighter on duty 24/7 in every room!
- Make sure you know what to do in the event of a power outage that affects your fire detection and alarm system. More here.
MoU between National Fire Chiefs Council and Care Quality Commission
In March 2021, a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to support the collective working relationship between the Care Quality and to safeguard the wellbeing of the public receiving health and social care in England. The CQC and the NFCC are committed to working in ways that are consistent with the principles of this MoU. Click here to view the MoU. Our Protection Team are working with CQC Partners to implement the agreed MoU.
Taking extra care with emollient creams
Scientific testing by Anglia Ruskin University has shown that fabric – such as clothing, towelling, bandages or bedding – contaminated with emollients creams burn quicker and hotter than uncontaminated fabric, with an average time to ignition of approximately six seconds. Regular washing of fabrics does not totally remove the risk.