Fire safety in care homes

Fire Safety in Care Homes

Complete Guide to Fire Safety in Care Homes

Having adequate fire safety measures in care homes is fundamental to protecting the people who live and work in the building and the structure of the building itself. Elderly people are generally more vulnerable, and as there are many causes of fire in care homes, it is vital that fire safety precautions are implemented safely and correctly.

We have compiled this extensive guide below to detail all you need to know about fire safety in care homes, and what regulations must be adhered to. Plus, you’ll find tips and advice on things to look out for and measures to consider to maximise fire safety within the care home.  

Fire safety laws for care homes

In the UK, fire safety laws differ depending on the type of building and the use of the dwelling in question. Specific to care homes, there are two laws central to the framework that define how fire safety should be implemented in care homes. 

The Care Homes Regulations Act 2001

The Care Homes Regulations Act 2001 sets out the requirements for fire safety. These are essential guidelines for protecting vulnerable residents, who frequently require particular care and attention during a potential care home fire. 

It mandates that the designated fire safety person should:

  • For professional guidance, speak with a fire authority, such as the local fire service.
  • Ensure sufficient training is given to all care home staff, and fire safety wardens have the requisite skills and knowledge in the event of a fire.
  • Plan regular fire drills to practice evacuation techniques; every drill and any equipment testing must be recorded. 
  • Take all necessary precautions to prevent fires, such as making sure any fire hazards are stored correctly. 
  • Provide recommended fire safety equipment for the detection, containment and extinguishment of flames.
  • Make sure that all fire safety equipment is maintained and tested regularly.

Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005

The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety order implemented in 2005 is a focused piece of legislation that details all the necessary criteria specific to care homes and what fire safety measures should be taken. Contained within the legislation are details:

  • on how to manage fire safety
  • the care home fire risk assessment
  • fire detection measures
  • the role of a designated fire warden 
  • the responsible person

Fire safety is regulated by this Order, and the fire service are responsible for its enforcement. If a care home is found to be non-compliant during fire safety inspection or routine fire safety checks, then the person or team carrying out the inspection will determine the severity of action that should be taken. 

In minor cases, information and advice will be given by the team carrying out the inspection, warning of the hazards found and why the risks are so great. For breaches of the Order that are serious, fines or even imprisonment can be incurred, so the need to ensure that there are adequate fire safety measures in care homes is of paramount importance.

Common causes of fire in residential care homes

As with any premises occupied by a large number of people that contains lots of people at any one time, the potential for a fire to occur is increased. Ordinarily, within care homes, a common cause of fire often comes from the use of electrical equipment. This could be cooking or kitchen equipment, or electrical equipment located in the rooms of residents. In addition, staff should always be wary and mindful of any electrical appliances located in residents bedrooms, checking frequently for any faulty equipment or signs of damage.

Equally, as food is on-site in care homes for its residents multiple times a day, fires can often stem from cooking. Making sure cooking equipment is operating correctly and stored in a safe place located away from any flammable hazards is essential. Fire safety training for any member of staff who works or uses the kitchen area is also required, so that appliances are used correctly and fire safety procedures are strictly adhered to. 

Smoking is another common cause of a care home fire, as a discarded cigarette end or an ashtray left unattended with a cig still lit can pose a fire risk. Prevention of smoking in bedrooms is critical, as this could cause serious harm to the welfare of the resident or other residents. 

Fire Safety Training For Care Homes

All staff must undergo fire safety training in the event of a fire drill or of a care home fire. Making sure staff are aware of their duties and responsibilities should they ever be required is the absolute minimum requirement. If all staff are not properly trained, this will present problems, particularly during periods of staff absences. 

Ideally, fire safety training should be done as part of an induction or at least in the early stages of employment. Areas that should be covered include: 

  • Fire safety training is mandatory within an induction or initial training phase. This will ensure all new employees are brought up to speed from the start. 
  • Specific training to aid development in being able to carry out performative tasks related to fire safety. This includes fire warden training, a fire risk assessment or the usage of fire extinguishers. 
  • If regulations or operations within your care home have changed, make sure staff are aligned with any changes through periodic review sessions or additional training. 
  • Ensure all responsible fire wardens are briefed and trained appropriately. If any updates to procedures are implemented, ensure sufficient training is given.

Care home fire risk assessment

By law, a care home fire risk assessment must be carried out on an annual basis to ensure a premise complies with all aspects of fire safety, adhering to the framework set out in the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order. 

The person responsible for overseeing the management of the premises is the person liable for ensuring a valid fire risk assessment is carried out and subsequently recorded on file if there are five or more employees that are members of staff. This is likely to be the case for all care homes. 

In accordance with government guidance, a fire risk assessment should consist of the following five steps: 

  1. Identify fire hazards – looking for sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen.
  2. Identify people at risk – people in general and those who are classified as at risk.
  3. Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk – evaluating the risk of a fire occurring, the risk to people from fire and removing any risk elements
  4. Record, plan, inform, instruct, and train – Detailing any significant findings and actions taken. 
  5. Review – Keeping any assessments under continuous review and revise when required. 

Having a professional fire risk assessor undertake the assessment is strongly recommended. A qualified assessor will have the requisite knowledge and experience needed to provide an in-depth assessment, ensuring all compliance is met thoroughly. 

Fire Safety with UK Safety Management

Do you require assistance with fire safety for a care home you work in or manage? At UK Safety Management, we have a team of qualified professionals ready to carry out your fire risk assessment, ensuring your care home complies with all the required fire safety regulations. 

We can ensure your staff and residents are safely guarded against any risks of fire, with our extensive fire risk assessment. Contact us today to receive a quote, or you can speak to a member of our friendly, professional team who is on hand to assist with all your fire safety queries. 

About UKSM

With a decade of experience in the electrical and fire safety sector, we have firmly established ourselves as a trusted name in the industry. Our commitment to excellence has allowed us to serve a diverse clientele, including landlords, architects, developers, consultants, local authorities, and housing associations, overseeing a staggering 85,000 sites.

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