Care home fire safety risks and solutions

As a care home owner, you’ll already know your residents' interests come first, and part of that is making sure that they are kept safe.

The health and safety of your residents should be your top priority. It’s vital for those living in your care home, and for the future of your business, to ensure that the correct fire safeguards are in place.

In 2016/2017 there were 261 fire-related fatalities and 7,081 non-fatal casualties.[1] Without an adequate fire safety programme, you might be exposing your business to losses and legal actions that could possibly bankrupt your care home.

How to keep your Care Home fire safe

To help keep your care home safe from fire, there are two fundamental options of prevention that you can take: creating a fire safety programme so that everyone knows what to do in the case of a fire, and to install a sprinkler system to put out a fire.

  • Sprinklers
    Sprinklers are essential, as many residents cannot move quickly due to health conditions. Installing sprinkler systems could be expensive but they are very worthwhile, allowing your residents and staff more time to exit a building safely.
  • Fire safety programme
    You cannot count on sprinklers alone to tackle the risk of fire, it is also very important to be well prepared for a fire by having a fire prevention program in place.

To help you start thinking about a fire prevention program, ask yourself the following:

Examine the structure of your building

  • Does your building have a sprinkler system? If it doesn’t, your plans for evacuation will need to be fast and efficient.
  • Does your ventilation and air condition system help disperse smoke?
  • Does your lift have fire-resistant gaskets, is pressurisation used to stop smoke from entering the lift and do the shafts have adequate sealing?
  • Does your care home have enough smoke detectors located throughout your building?
  • Do you have an automatic fire service notification system in place?
  • Does your care home have smoke barriers that will trap the fire in a certain area?
  • Are residents' doors 4.5 centimeters thick? They can provide up to 20 minutes of fire protection.
  • Are door latches installed on the outside of the door? Do they prevent the door from opening during a fire?

Decide on an evacuation procedure

Fire information should be clearly posted and be part of your employee handbook. Employees need clear specific instructions in the event that they discover a fire, or hear a fire alarm on what they should do.

The information should include:

  • Clear actions when discovering a fire
  • How to trigger the alarm
  • How to reach the fire service staff
  • How to remove residents from the area affected by the fire
  • How qualified staff should safely remove feeding tubes, IVs, catheter drains and ventilators before evacuating residents and how to continue these functions once evacuated
  • How to exit the building while helping residents
  • Where to direct fire fighters in the building while residents are being evacuated

Staff Training

So that your staff understand the procedures and are able to perform them quickly, your care home should carry out staff training and periodic fire drills. Make sure your residents know these are only drills on each occasion to prevent distress. Supervisors such as department heads and nurses should conduct fire drills with their staff frequently. Each department can then determine how well the staff are prepared in the event of an actual fire.

Protect your residents, your building and your business

Thorough fire prevention plans reduce your risk of penalties and lowers your risk of negligence legal actions, protects your building, employees, residents and your business. How you keep your residents safe is a major deciding point for potential residents and their families.

If you want to find out more about this subject and managing care home risks check out our care home insurance webpage.


1. Detailed analysis of fires attended by fire and rescue services, England, April 2016 to March 2017: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/650926/detailed-analysis-fires-attended-fire-rescue-england-hosb1617.pdf
2. Zywave: Care Home fire safety






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