From April to September 2016, UK fire and rescue services attended around 87,000 fires, which resulted in 88 fatalities and 1,570 casualties, according to recent government figures. With many vulnerable people living under one roof, fire safety should be an absolute priority for your care home to reduce the risk of your residents and staff adding to these unfortunate numbers.
When it comes to securing the safety of your care home against the risk of fire, having the correct equipment ranks as one of the most important preparations you can make. If you are looking to buy new safety gear or upgrade soon, there are a few things that you need to consider before you invest. Read on to find out more.
Your equipment must meet fire safety regulations
There are a number of fire safety orders that must be complied with in the UK, depending on where you are based: The Fire Safety Order 2005 for England and Wales, Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and The Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 for Scotland, and Part III of the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 for Northern Ireland.
Handily, there are guides published by each region’s fire authorities or health care organisations that make recommendations for the requirements set out by each respective act, including what is necessary for equipment like extinguishers, alarms, and fire doors. The National Association of Healthcare Fire Officers (NAHFO) have a guide for residential care homes in England and Wales, the Scottish Care Inspectorate published their own guide, while Northern Ireland’s Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has issued a guide to fire safety law.
Buy from a reputable manufacturer
Another primary concern when sourcing fire safety equipment should be that you are purchasing them from a manufacturer with a great reputation for testing their products to a high standard. There are also fire rating certifications for different products that you can also rely upon to give you independent verification of your equipment’s quality.
For example, Warrington Certification’s CERTIFIRE scheme can be relied upon to test and rate the performance of passive fire protection like doors, glazing, and other structural features. If you buy from a firm, such as door manufacturer Bradbury Group, whose products carry this certification, you can be confident that they will perform to standard in an emergency.
Likewise, there are also official British standards that have to be adhered to for a variety of firefighting equipment, known as BS 5306. This standard is made up of many separate categories which cover the manufacture and installation of everything from extinguishers to fire alarms. The Fire Industry Association (FIA) has a British standards database, so it’s always important to look for products that indicate they have been created to match their criteria.
How the equipment will look in your care home
Once you’ve decided which type of equipment you are going to buy, it’s time to think about how it will look in your care home. You need to find a sensible compromise between maintaining the homely aesthetic that you’ve worked hard to establish for residents and visitors, with the need to make equipment obvious and easily accessible in an emergency.
While safety should be your paramount concern, there are steps you can take to reduce the visual impact of your equipment. For example, by installing a sprinkler system throughout your care home, you can reduce the number of portable fire-fighting devices required, minimising their presence throughout the property. You can also choose fire doors or escapes that are available in a colour that matches your décor, to avoid them looking out of place.
Take these three points on board when the time comes to upgrade your fire safety equipment and you will be able to make smart purchases for your care home.