The Importance of Fire Equipment in Residential Care & Nursing Homes

For any building or workplace, fire safety is crucial for the safeguarding of those within the premises. Care homes in particular need extra care as there is a higher risk of fatalities due to the fact that they are typically occupied by the old and the ill.

In the event of a fire, it’s a lot more challenging to evacuate residents of care homes as they are more vulnerable. Keeping residents safe from a fire can be made even more difficult in care homes due to staff shift patterns; for example, there are usually fewer staff on the premises at night.

As a duty of care, your premises should be equipped with all the adequate fire safety equipment and all staff should be trained specifically for fire safety for vulnerable residents.

It is also necessary to perform weekly fire checks and if you are unsure of what your duties are please click here.

That’s why we have highlighted the importance of fire equipment in care homes in this article.

Fire-related fatalities

Fire-related fatalities are generally at a higher rate for those aged 65 and over; a 2017/18 report from GOV.UK found that 35% of all fire-related fatalities in England were people aged 65 years old and over.

The same report goes on to say that the fatality rate for this age bracket has decreased compared to the previous year (47%), but this rate has only decreased due to the Grenfell Tower fire where a large proportion of the fatalities from the fire were people under the age of 65. This suggests that the age bracket of 65 and over still has a high fatality rate.

With such a high rate in fire-related fatalities (especially from the age bracket that is most likely to occupy care establishments), having the equipment on site to tackle a small fire is crucial to protect those that are more vulnerable.

Fatality rate (fatalities per million people) for all ages and selected
age bands, England; 2009/10 to 2017/18

Laws & Regulations for care and nursing homes

Laws and regulations are extremely thorough in the health and social care sector, so it’s important that your establishment is following them.

In health and social care premises, it is a legal requirement to have a ‘registered manager’, which is the person appointed by the care provider (the company) to manage the regulated activity on their behalf (when they are not going to be in day-to-day charge of the regulated activities themselves).

In most cases, a provider will need to have one or more registered managers, and fire safety regulations are included in the duties and responsibilities of the registered manager.

Main legislation to follow

  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is the main piece of legislation for fire safety standards for all non-domestic premises, which of course care homes fall under
  • The Care Home Regulations 2001 is the main piece of legislation overseeing all care homes in England, with an extensive range of subjects within the legislation, including fire safety

These legislations lay out regulations for fire safety where the registered manager should:

  1. Consult with a fire authority for advice
  2. Take adequate precautions against fire risk
  3. Make arrangements for the detection, containment and extinguishment of fires through the provision of recommended fire safety equipment
  4. Ensure the regular maintenance of fire safety equipment – to see how we can help, please click here
  5. Be responsible for the training of care home staff, and the appointment of competent fire wardens for the premises – see more details here
  6. Organise regular fire drills to practice evacuation procedures; all drills must be recorded, as should any equipment testing

Related article: Fire Safety Laws That Your Business Should Be Following

Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is an independent regulator of health and social care in England. CQC inspects and rates residential and nursing homes (as well as other health and social care establishments) to check the quality of care provided.

CQC provides health and social care establishments with regulations to follow to ensure that their residents are provided with the highest quality of care.

Included in the ratings provided by CQC is the safety of the establishment, which of course fire safety will fall under.

You should be aiming to provide the best quality of care for your residents anyway, this becomes a necessity when there are organisations such as CQC (which has a good reputation) rating the care provided. If your care home is rated poorly, your brand will be damaged.

An example of a Care Home CQC

Fire Risk Assessment

All workplaces, care homes included, are required to conduct a fire risk assessment because it is a legal requirement. Fire risk assessments are designed to prevent and reduce the risks of a fire at your premises.

A designated ‘responsible person’ is responsible for carrying out fire safety duties, including conducting a fire risk assessment. For care homes, the ‘registered manager’ is likely going to be the designated ‘responsible person’.

The business owner of the care home or the registered manager can hire someone competent for the role of the ‘responsible person’ or hire a professional risk assessor (read more about hiring a professional here).

Fire risk assessments need to be kept up-to-date in a written document when there are 5 or more employees. The process is:

  1. Identify the fire hazards
  2. Identify people at risk
  3. Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks
  4. Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training
  5. Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly

Essential Fire Safety Equipment for Care Homes

L1 Fire Alarm System

To meet fire safety regulations, care homes are required to have an L1 fire alarm system installed. This provides the highest level of protection a fire alarm system can offer, which is crucial for care homes as their residents have a higher risk of harm.

This system provides automatic detection such as smoke or heat detectors, usually in every room of the care home.

Fire Extinguishers

As with any premises, fire extinguishers are an important piece of fire safety equipment. To be more precise, fire extinguishers are fire-fighting equipment as they are there to extinguish small fires rather than prevent a fire from starting.

There are many types of fire extinguishers that are suitable for different classes of fire. So, it’s vital that the premises are equipped with the correct fire extinguishers in the correct place and that the registered managers within the care homes are fully trained to operate fire extinguishers. See our fire extinguishers here.

Fire Extinguisher Classification Chart

Related article: How to Safely Use a Fire Extinguisher (and Get the Relevant Training)

Fire Doors

It’s essential for care homes to have good quality fire doors that are in working order to keep residents safe. Fire doors are a crucial piece of fire safety equipment because they help slow down or limit the spread of fires, which also means staff and residents have more time to evacuate safely.

Fire doors have automatic closing devices, so the doors can be left open all day but will close when the fire alarm sounds. You can have doors that are connected to your fire alarm which is known as a ‘magnetic retainer’, or you can have a battery-operated system which closes when the alarm sounds, which is called an ‘acoustic retainer’.

Strobe Alarms/Fire Alarm Beacons

Care and nursing homes often have residents with disabilities such as those that are deaf or hard of hearing. For these particular residents, strobe alarms or fire alarm beacons are essential for fire safety.

These alarms give a visual warning instead of a sounded one, so deaf and hard-of-hearing residents will be notified just as soon as everyone else within the premises.

Protect your residents from a fire

Now that you know the importance of fire equipment in residential care and nursing homes, it’s up to you to ensure that you keep your residents safe from a fire by following this guide.

If you are interested in staff training, hiring a professional risk assessor, essential fire safety equipment or anything else we have mentioned above, contact us here.

Hearing impaired customers: contact us via our online live chat system.

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