Nursing Home Fire Drills
Fire drills are an integral part of all fire safety programs, and are a legal requirement for any commercial property. Based on findings detailed in the building’s fire risk assessment, an evacuation plan should be accurately defined, citing escape routes, fire exits and assembly points.
The best way to ensure that this means of escape is effective is by performing regular fire drills to test and finetune the process. This will allow fire marshals to pay attention to the performance of alarms, the suitability of escape routes, access to assembly points and any other factors that may have an impact on the success of an evacuation in the event of a real fire.
Nursing Home Fire Drills
Certain commercial environments will need to make special accommodations when it comes to fire drills – particularly those that have a high number of occupants with mobility issues. Nursing homes are one such place, with many vulnerable residents potentially having difficulty in evacuating in a quick and efficient manner.
With this in mind, any fire risk assessment (required by law for organisations that employ five or more staff members) carried out will have to detail steps taken to protect those at special risk, such as the elderly or disabled, and these precautions must be communicated to all employees. This includes setting a specific set of guidelines for fire drills, taking a number of factors into consideration.
Raising the Alarm
It may be the case that a nursing home has a number of residents who are hard-of-hearing. If so, specialised equipment must be in place in order to keep these occupants safe. This often takes the form of a fire alarm synchronised with warning lights, or otherwise connected to an internal paging system.
Whether as part of a drill or not, regular testing of a property’s fire alarm is required under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, and it is recommended that this occurs weekly. Testing alarms on the same day and at the same time each week will help to limit panic among residents, and will encourage greater attention to be paid to alarms that sound outside of this time.
It is not entirely necessary for all occupants to perform a full evacuation of the premises during a drill. Those who may be exempt include those that cannot be moved for health reasons; those who are required to remain with residents that cannot be moved; those charged with operating equipment or processes that cannot be stopped, even temporarily. A risk assessment performed prior to the drill should determine which residents or occupants fall into these categories.
Depending on the passive fire resistance in place within the building, it may be possible for vulnerable residents to be moved to nearby areas of the premises that will remain unaffected by fire for a minimum of 30 minutes, allowing rescue services to extinguish the blaze. If the correct facilities are in place, this can be something that is implemented into the fire drill procedure.
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