Carrying out a fire risk assessment for residential care homes
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Fire Risk Assessments In Residential Care Homes

What is a fire risk assessment?

A fire risk assessment is when someone takes a careful look at your premises and the people who use it, from a fire prevention perspective. It helps you understand any potential risks and helps you improve your fire safety in order to keep people safe. Your fire risk assessment forms the basis of all your fire safety plans and is part of the fire safety regulations laid out in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 replaced most previous fire safety legislation. It was designed to provide a minimum fire safety standard in all non-domestic premises. The Order designates the employer or manager as the ‘Responsible Person’ which means fire safety lies with you. It also states that you must:

  • keep fire risk assessments up to date
  • take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire
  • ensure all fire precautions remain current and adequate
  • make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire

 

If you don’t meet these legal obligations, you can go to prison and face an unlimited fine.

Why does a residential care home need a fire risk assessment done by a professional?

All residential care homes must have a fire risk assessment. It’s the law. And you must ensure a suitably competent person completes it. But whilst it is not a legal obligation to use a professional, the person must be able to identify all possible fire risks and hazards. And this is where problems have arisen, as highlighted by the London Fire Brigade’s 2019 assessment of residential care homes in London.

Residential care homes are falling short In 2019, the London Fire Brigade visited 177 care homes in the London area in a series of one-off in-depth inspections. The inspectors discovered huge numbers of serious fire safety failures, such as:

  • One in three premises having inadequate or poorly maintained fire doors
  • Widespread confusion about fire evacuation strategies
  • Roofs often omitted from fire risk assessments (roof voids often increase the spread and severity of a fire)
  • Fire risk assessments being carried out by people without the proper skills and experience

 

On this last point, Assistant Commissioner Daly, continued, to say that:

“To make a proper fire risk assessment, you need to properly understand how fire can travel and develop, otherwise, you’re just guessing your safety plan. You wouldn’t let an under-qualified surgeon operate on you, so why allow someone without the proper experience to undertake your fire risk assessment.”

Use a fire safety professional

Residential care homes are complex environments when considering fire safety. Without specialist training, it is hard to understand all the possible risks. Which is why it is of paramount importance that you use a professional assessor. You must then, by law, implement any fire safety recommendations on the fire risk assessment to ensure you have fulfilled all your obligations. It is your legal responsibility to ensure your residential care home is safe.

  • Your fire risk assessment should then be reviewed annually
  • When there is any significant change to your premises or residents
  • And you must ensure it is written down if there are five or more people on the premises

 

If there’s a fire and you haven’t met your legal duties to keep people safe, you could be fined and may even spend time in prison. Worse still, someone may be injured or killed.

28 years’ experience – book your fire risk assessment today

Benfield Fire Safety works with a lot of residential care homes and is a leading fire safety, fire risk assessment and fire safety training provider with over 28 years of professional experience. Our mission is simple – to save lives. Call us now for a free initial chat and to book a consultation by calling 0300 303 3277 or emailing customerservice@benfieldfs.co.uk.

Further resources

The government has published a guide to help employers, managers, occupiers and owners of residential care homes navigate the complexity of fire safety. It can be found here.