Whilst care homes provide a supportive and secure environment for those who require additional assistance, they can also present a variety of risks when it comes to fire.
Vulnerable residents may struggle to evacuate quickly; that’s why it’s crucial to have the appropriate fire safety measures in place.
The Scottish Government has established a number of fire safety guidelines to ensure the safety of care home residents. However, these regulations can be complex and difficult to understand.
With this in mind, the team at ASCO has written this article to break down these requirements so that you can easily understand what is expected of your care home.
Why is effective fire safety guidance important in care homes?
Care homes house some of the most vulnerable demographics in society, including elderly people and those with limited mobility and additional needs.
During a fire, time is of the essence, and some residents may be at a higher risk due to their inability to evacuate quickly.
As a result, fire safety guidance must be tailored to factor in the unique challenges of this setting. Implementing effective fire safety measures means fire risk is minimised, evacuations can be conducted more efficiently and the likelihood of injuries or fatalities is reduced.
The Rosepark Care Home Fire of 2004 serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of fire safety guidance in care facilities.
Fourteen residents lost their lives in this fire, and subsequent investigations have revealed several fire safety shortcomings that directly contributed to this tragedy.
This includes inadequate fire alarms, insufficient staff training and a lack of proper evacuation procedures.
Since this tragedy, there have been significant changes to Scottish fire safety regulations for care homes, including the requirement for all care homes to have a comprehensive fire risk assessment and emergency plan in place.
This incident also highlighted the importance of regular fire safety training for staff members and the need for continuous review and improvement.
What fire safety measures must you have in place?
The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 establishes the measures that those responsible for owning or managing a care home must have in place. This includes:
Fire risk assessment – Care homes are required to carry out an annual fire risk assessment. An assessor will identify potential fire hazards and make recommendations on how to minimise fire risk.
Fire doors – Every care home must have appropriate fire doors installed in all areas that lead out of the building or provide access to a stairwell or corridor. These fire doors must be self-closing and fitted with fire-rated seals to prevent the passage of smoke.
Fire alarms – Fire alarms must be fitted and regularly tested to ensure proper function. This will provide a crucial early warning to staff and residents alike. New regulations came into force in 2022, and Scotland is now the first UK nation to legally require every residence to install interlinked fire alarms.
Fire safety equipment – The appropriate fire safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers and fire blankets, must be readily available throughout the premises. These tools can prevent a small fire from escalating out of control.
Emergency lighting – Care homes must have emergency lighting and the appropriate fire safety signage in place to help guide residents towards a safe evacuation route.
Fire wardens – A number of designated fire wardens must be appointed at every care home.
On a day-to-day basis, it is the responsibility of this person to identify and monitor potential hazards, ensuring all fire doors are kept closed and fire drills are regularly conducted.
In the event of a fire, the fire wardens must assist with evacuation, make sure all residents are accounted for and direct emergency services. They must be provided with adequate training to prepare them for this role.
Record-keeping – Care homes must maintain detailed records of fire safety measures, risk assessments and staff training to facilitate ongoing improvement.
Our BAFE-accredited team have a wealth of industry experience and accreditations to help ensure your premises comply with all Scottish fire safety regulations.
For more information or to book a consultation, contact us today.