Additional guidance has been published for fire safety in residential care and nursing homes in order to clarify the government guide to fire risk assessment, fire control and fire avoidance within the industry to ensure compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO) legislation. The new guide is in the form of updates to the existing Communities and Local Government Guide for care homes which remains in force although it should be noted that unlike the RRO is not enshrined in law but is for want of a better description a Code of Practice
Even so the additional guidance, published by the National Association for Safety and Health in Care Services (NASHiCS) and the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA), deals with several issues and if anything relaxes some provisions within of the previous CLG Guide to acknowledge the variations in age and construction of care homes and not least the differing mobility levels of residents. Care Home owners are well advised to work closely to these guidelines to ensure legal compliance with the RRO.
Specific issues covered include upgrades to fire compartments, evacuation times, dealing with residents unable to evacuate without assistance, travel distances on evacuation routes, use of external fire escapes and by-pass routes.
I have a close relative in a care home and when I visit even at 97 years she is always lucid, happy, content and I hope safe in her micro community. What is noticeable is that for the most part for practical purposes within the residential blocks at least the compartment fire doors are often fixed in the open position. I will check next time I visit to see if they are fixed using automatic safety closing devices such as the Dorgard Automatic Fire Door Retainer that will ensure compartmentation in the event of fire. The rooms to the individual “guest”” rooms are more often closed but without any self closers attached. If the new guidance is followed these rooms which should already have 30 minute fire compartmentation may have to be upgraded at the first opportunity to 60 mins “if practical” so as to provide a temporary refuge should the occupant be unable to be evacuated immediately. With my relative being somewhat hard of hearing I could I guess see if the home would install a Deafguard Fire Alarm which incorporates a flashing beacon and under pillow vibration pad to alert the resident to a fire alarm.
The additional guidance is intended to provide care home managers with a clearer understanding of the existing CLG guide and compliance with the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. If you have a loved one in care you might just check the basic fire safety provisions are in place on your next visit.