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What should be considered in a care home fire safety policy?

Birds eye view of a care home layout

Each year, fires cost the UK billions of pounds and take hundreds of lives unnecessarily. But fire safety in the care homes is particularly challenging.

Fire safety in care homes involves keeping people safe who may be vulnerable, highly dependent, physically restricted, or even unable to protect or evacuate themselves without assistance.

With that being said, it is crucial that care homes ensure that fire safety is treated as a top priority and that responsibilities like conducting a fire risk assessment, notifying staff about identified risks, what safety measures are in place, what to do in case of an emergency, and training requirements, are all covered in an organisation’s fire safety policy.

What is a fire safety policy and what should be considered within it?

A fire safety policy is a written document that is created to demonstrate fire safety requirements and procedures and what people should do during the unlikely event of a fire.

This policy should contain all the information that employees need to understand how to keep themselves and others safe.

Below, we have answered some frequently asked questions surrounding what should be considered in a care home fire safety policy…

Does a fire warden need to be trained?

Depending on the size and use of a work premises, organisations must appoint one or more competent persons to carry out any of the preventive and protective measures required by The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

A competent person is considered to be someone with adequate training, knowledge, and experience to be able to implement fire safety measures properly.

So, whilst there is no formal requirement for a designated Fire Warden to possess a qualification, it is very strongly recommended that an appointed person is given adequate training and refresher training annually.

How many fire wardens should there be in a care home?

Unfortunately, there isn't a definitive answer to this, it largely depends on the size and layout of your care home premises. You need to conduct risk assessments to assess how many people are in your building and if your building is a low/medium or high-risk building. Generally speaking, organisations need to appoint a fire warden for every 50 employees.

However, for high-risk fire environments, such as care homes, it is advised that there should be more fire wardens than would typically be needed in lower risk buildings. 

Surrey Fire, who have been protecting businesses from fire since 1997, give the following guidance for normal-risk and high-risk workplaces:

Normal-risk premises

  • Fewer than 20 employees/occupants - at least 1 fire marshal
  • 20-75 employees/occupants - at least 2 fire marshals
  • For every additional 75 employees/occupants - 1 additional fire marshal

Additional marshals that may be required: 

  • 1 fire marshal per area/floor
  • Every shift must adequately covered
  • Add 25-50% to the number of marshals required to cover absence

High-risk premises

  • Fewer than 15 employees/occupants - at least 1 fire marshal
  • 15-50 employees/occupants - at least 2 fire marshals
  • For every additional 50 employees/occupants - 1 additional fire marshal

Additional marshals that may be required: 

  • 1 fire marshal per area/floor
  • Every shift must adequately covered
  • Add 25-50% to the number of marshals required to cover absence

Disclaimer: you should always conduct thorough risk assessments to determine the risk to your business and therefore how many fire wardens you require. The above is guidance only, please seek professional advice if you are unsure on the number of wardens you should have on your premises.

How often should a fire alarm be tested in care homes?

In order to work in compliance with fire safety regulations, all care homes need to have an L1 fire alarm system. This means that it gives the highest possible level of cover that a fire alarm system can offer.

Having an L1 system in place ensures that care home employees have as much time as possible to evacuate the residents if a fire breaks out.

In addition to having an L1 system in place, it must also be serviced every six months as a minimum, and this must be carried out by a qualified fire alarm engineer.

It is also down to a competent person to ensure the fire alarm is tested weekly by a competent person.

Online fire safety training

Here at iHASCO, we offer a number of Health & Safety Training courses, including specific Fire Safety courses such as Fire Awareness and Fire Warden Training for the care sector and fire safety training for hospital staff.

Our Fire Awareness Training in Care course is CPD Accredited & IIRSM Approved, and can be completed in just 45 minutes. It is designed for all levels of staff to give them a fundamental understanding of fire signage, fire extinguishers, their responsibilities, and the importance of procedures.

Our Fire Warden Training in Care course is CPD Accredited and can be completed in 75 minutes. It is designed for the use of appointed persons in a care home and offers information on prevention measures, performing an evacuation, types of extinguishers, and relevant legislation.

You can claim a free, no-obligation trial to either of these courses today! Alternatively, you can request a quote and a member of our team will get in touch to discuss your training needs.

Fire Awareness in Care Training
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