Fire Risk Assessment

Care Home Fire Safety Concerns

Two recent reports have highlighted growing concerns about fire safety in care homes - one from The Guardian and the other from the BBC.

Residential care homes ‘routinely’ breaching fire regulations - Guardian Report

135 care homes were the subject of enforcement action by fire and rescue services between January 2010 and March 2011, according to responses to freedom of information requests from 37 out of 46 fire services in England. Full Guardian Report...

Hazards included inadequate alarms, blocked escape routes, damaged and dangerous equipment and untrained staff. About 90% of the homes concerned are privately owned, the vast majority by small, one-home operators, says the article. Residential care homes are increasingly under financial pressure as a result of the squeeze by local authorities on the fees they pay them.

Care homes must have an up-to-date Fire Risk Assessment, they should also be re-assessed once a year.
All staff must also undergo basic fire awareness training and be clear about what to do when the alarm sounds.

One manager, who took charge of a care home after it had been issued with an enforcement notice, told the newspaper that staff often do not understand the risks involved:

"When I first took over the home, there were no risk assessments or training in fire safety. Staff and residents often have no idea what to do in the event of the alarm sounding and stand there looking at one another. Many aren't able to detect from the fire alarm panel whereabouts in the building the fire is located."


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Fire safety breaches in London care homes exposed - BBC

29 care homes have had enforcement action taken against them since 2010. Full BBC Report...

Some of the homes had up to eight individual breaches of fire safety legislation. Common breaches included a lack of staff training, no escape plans and unmarked fire exits. According to the BBC, there are 1,976 care homes in London, with 663 having been audited since 2010. Enforcement action was taken at 4% of those.

Steve Turek, assistant commissioner for the London Fire Brigade, said:

"It's important for owners of care homes to take their responsibilities seriously. I don't think it's acceptable for anyone who receives an enforcement notice to say it was for minor infringements. We don't issue enforcement notices lightly."


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