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Fire Safety in the Health and Social Care Sector

Fire Safety In Health and Social Care

Fire safety can be particularly hard to get right in the health and social care sector. You not only have the usual elements to consider – the building, fire safety equipment, hazards, and people. But you have an almost unique coalescence of people who may need additional support. So, implementing the very highest standards of fire safety in the healthcare environment is incredibly important. Not only because the evacuation process can take longer in the event of a fire, but because of the prevalence of highly flammable items, such as oxygen, on site.

So, what do you need to know about fire safety in healthcare and social care?

 

The Four Essential Stages of Fire Safety in Healthcare and Social Care Settings

 

Risk assessment

It is a legal requirement for all UK healthcare organisations to have an active fire risk assessment. And this should be the first fire safety consideration for any organisation of any kind. Fire risk assessments can be conducted inhouse, or by a professional fire protection company. Either way, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that all healthcare organisations must have a designated person to take responsibility for the risk assessment process. The important thing is that the fire risk assessment covers all fire safety issues relating to the organisation. And these can typically be broken down into three core areas.

  • Fire hazards – Equipment, flammable materials, sources of heat and combustion.
  • People – Is anyone in a high risk position? Will anyone on site have mobility issues or need additional support to evacuate?
  • Fire detection and safety equipment – What fire safety equipment do you need? What do you have? What maintenance does it need? Has it been tested recently? This includes snoke detectors, fire alarms, fire doors, emergency lighting, signage, fire extinguishers, fire blankets.

Once each of these areas have been assessed, any necessary preventative measures should be implemented. The fire risk assessment then needs to be reviewed on a regular basis. While there is no fixed review period stated in law for the fire risk assessment, it’s a good idea to conduct an inspection on a monthly basis. Particularly in areas such as health and social care, where fire safety may be complex.

 

Evacuation plan

Fire safety in healthcare settings can be particularly demanding because of the difficulty of evacuation. In a hospital, for instance, many patients will be bedbound. Some may even be undergoing surgery. In day case healthcare and social care facilities, evacuation may be slightly easier, but there will still be increased instances of people with mobility issues, and perhaps cognitive and emotional concerns. These can all make safe evacuation a lot more difficult to implement. Having a detailed evacuation plan, including the allocation of staff for specific duties, such as the support of patients in individual beds, is integral. All staff must also be appropriately trained to support a safe evacuation.

 

fire safety training and equipment healthcare

Fire safety training

Providing fire safety training is a mandatory requirement for all UK businesses. It also helps to save lives. Reducing the likelihood of fires breaking out accidentally and equipping employees to better deal with any fire event. As well as basic fire safety training for all employees, at least one fire marshal should also be appointed.

Fire safety equipment

Your fire safety equipment is your first line of defence in a fire event. As such, it is vital that you have the right equipment in place and that it is properly maintained. Your fire risk assessment should help you to determine the type of equipment you need and where it should be sited. It, along with the log book, should also help you keep track of any equipment maintenance needs.   These will include:

  • Fire extinguishers – There are five different types of fire extinguisher to handle the six different classes of fire. It is fundamental to your fire safety strategy that you have the right extinguishers in the right place. And that they are properly maintained.
  • Alarm system – Your fire alarm system can only protect you, if you have the right category of alarm to suit your premises. It must also be well-maintained, and tested weekly.
  • Fire doors – Fire doors can provide vital extra minutes for evacuation, preventing the spread of both flames and smoke. But they have to be properly fitted, in a good state of repair, and closed. Conducting regular fire door inspections can literally save lives. It is also a legal requirement.
  • Emergency lighting – In a large, complex building, such as a hospital, emergency lighting can make the difference between life and death, helping people to find the emergency exit safely. To ensure that it is fully functional if it is ever called upon, you must test your emergency lighting And make certain that your system receives the relevant servicing and maintenance.
  • Emergency signage – Emergency signage is often an after-thought, but it provides essential guidance for anyone not deeply familiar with the premises. Holding the potential to be incredibly useful, It is also a legal requirement.

 

Fire safety in healthcare and social care environments is difficult for a number of reasons. It’s not just that it’s a highly people-focused environment where many people with a wide variety of mobility concerns may be on site. But the fact that many premises are in constant operation. There are no quiet periods in which to test alarms and service equipment.

 

This can mean that scheduling important maintenance can be problematic. But when you work with a trusted fire safety provider, such as 1st Class Fire Protection, you’ll receive a flexible and thorough service that minimises disruption while ensuring that your organisation receives the highest level of fire safety protection possible.

 

At 1st Class Fire Protection, we have more than 25 years’ experience supporting the health and social care organisations of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, and the surrounding areas with professional Fire Risk Assessments and fire safety services. Get in touch to find out how we could help you.

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