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Are your care home fire safety plans up to standard?

Residential home managers around the country are being urged to review their care home fire safety plans and staff training following the publication of an investigation by the London Fire Brigade.

The report, which was published in February 2019, found that of 177 care homes in the capital:

  • 29% had failures relating to fire doors within their premises
  • 10% had inadequate training for staff and managers
  • 14% had evidence of poor emergency planning or a potential lack of staff to implement emergency plans

In total, more than half of all care homes in the capital were found to have serious fire safety failures. Furthermore, fire risk assessments were being carried out by people without the proper skills and experience.

Sadly, these findings will not be restricted to London. Care homes across the country need to review and act on these findings for the safety of their residents and to avoid fires such as the one which killed two people in a Hertfordshire residential home in 2017.

The top fire hazards in care homes

According to the London Fire Brigade, 45% of fires in residential homes are caused by cooking and cookers, 15% by kitchen appliances, and 12% are smoking-related.

So, what can you do to mitigate these risks?

  • Encourage residents who smoke to quit, or have strict rules for where they can do so under supervision, to ensure the safety of the resident and care home
  • Install and maintain fire detection and suppression systems, like sprinklers
  • Have an emergency plan and carry out staff training

Emergency planning for your care home

The first course of action is to have a qualified assessor carry out a risk assessment. They need to be aware of the varied legislation for care homes and be members of The Institute of Fire Safety Managers. Always check their credentials before engaging their services.

Next, carry out staff training, including simulating a realistic emergency situation using state-of-the-art training equipment. Care home managers will also want their staff to have Evacuation Chair Training, which can be given by an IOSH approved training provider.

If you think care home fire safety training will be difficult to manage alongside the day-to-day running of your home, you might be surprised about how easy it is to arrange. Training can be carried out in your care home using digital fire simulators, laser fire extinguishers and smoke goggles, which are no risk to participating staff or your home.

A key part of your emergency plans will be to make sure you have the right number of staff on the night shift. They need to all be aware of what to do if a fire is discovered, including identifying escape routes, plans for individual residents, and how to alert the fire service. Two-way walkie talkies will also help staff members communicate in an emergency.

Finding expert care home fire safety advice and training

Benfield Fire Safety is experienced in care home fire safety and can offer you full and ongoing support providing fire safety assessments to policy creation and fire safety training using state-of-the-art equipment to help make the fire emergency as realistic as possible.

All of our fire risk assessors are ex-fire officers with more than 25 years’ experience in the fire sector. We ensure your care home is compliant with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, Care Home Regulations Act 2001 and also the HM Government guidance for care homes. Plus, we are an IOSH approved training provider.

To find out more about our care home fire safety services please get in touch with me here at Benfield Fire Safety by calling 0300 303 3277 or emailing customerservice@benfieldfs.co.uk