Unlike a regular home, an office, restaurant, bakery or the vast majority of all other businesses for that matter, your nursing home is regularly active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year – when it comes to fire safety, this makes your job that little bit harder.
As a nursing home, you have the added legal and moral requirement to ensure the safety and welfare of your residents, employees and visitors is at the highest standard at all times. Despite the number of fires falling year on year, you should never sit back and relax in blissful ignorance, assuming that your nursing home is safe or that another member of staff will handle it.
The safety of your nursing home, reputation, residents and visitors is a team effort, and one that with a bit of preparation and organisation, isn’t that hard to get under control.
It is everyone’s responsibility to work towards the safety and welfare of all the occupants, employees and visitors in your Nursing Home. However According to the Fire Safety Order there must be a responsible person appointed, usually the owner, occupier, or someone in control of the premises.
What is the responsible person?
This is the person who is ultimately in charge of ensuring the safety and compliance of your home. They could face potential charges of 15 years in prison, if it is proven that negligence and ignorance caused a fatality in the event of a fire.
The responsible person may appoint one or more ‘competent person(s)’ to help oversee things, and ensure everything is in accordance with the Fire Safety Order. This should always be a trusted person within your Nursing Home, since failure to comply with fire safety rules could leave your business in financial, moral, and legal turmoil.
What should the Responsible Person be doing?
Of course, it’s everyone’s responsibility to be careful of fire hazards, and be on the look out for any potential harmful setups, however the liability will often fall on the Responsible Person and any appointed competent persons. What should these be doing in order to ensure the safety of your nursing home?
Lists are one of the best ways to stay organised in a simplistic and task-orientated manner. By law, you need to conduct a fire risk assessment in your Nursing Home – our tip is that you should formulate your fire safety check-list whilst you’re conducting your fire risk assessment. That way, whilst the regulations are fresh in your mind, you can formulate a list of places, items and hazard that you should be regularly checking or overseeing at certain intervals.
Creating a checklist and putting people in charge of inspecting certain areas or items around your home helps to delegate responsibility, so that everyone knows their place and role, and ensures your nursing home is as safe as possible all year round, not just after inspections.
Educate yourself on the causes of fires
It is good practice to educate yourself on the most common causes of fires, both in general, and in your specific nursing home, since this will allow you to place extra importance on checking the areas that are most likely to lead to a fire.
As an example, you could zone off your nursing home into different areas of danger. The showers and toilets may be a low danger zone, whereas the kitchen, and communal areas could be a hot zone, thanks to the mass of furniture or cooking equipment. Knowing where a fire is likely to start can help you hone in on your inspections and really give those areas a thorough look through.
Educate and inform your staff and residents.
There’s no point you being a wizard of fire safety if your residents and staff aren’t clued up at all on fire safety, to the point of them not even knowing where the fire exits are.
We recommend holding annual fire safety seminars/training sessions in your home as well as including a full and thorough fire safety training regime into any new staff inductions. This way you can be confident that you’re surrounded by competent staff and fire savvy residents.
Remember, non-regular visitors are hazards
non-regular visitors don’t know the ins and outs of your home – they don’t know where the fire exits or fire extinguishers are, and they might not even know the basics of fire safety with regards to how they act in your nursing home.
For this reason, it is important that you keep them in mind when you are conducting your safety checks and fire risk assessment. Is your nursing home set up with signs, information and measures to ensure that any new visitors will know how to act in the case of a fire, where to go and what to, and not to, do?
Extinguishers, alarm, PAT and fixed wires tests
We hope your nursing home is already kitted out with the basics for fire management and safety, however you’d be surprised how many aren’t!
Every nursing home, or building for that matter, should have an adequate amount of fire extinguishers, fire blankets and smoke alarms, as well conducting regular (6 monthly, or yearly) electrical tests (portable appliance and fixed wire) to ensure that your nursing home doesn’t go up in a blaze due to an easily avoidable electrical fault.