A London-based care home operator has been fined £30,000 as a result of a fire which left an elderly resident seriously injured and in hospital for 3 months. The fire led to prosecution by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) with the case reaching court in November this year.
LFB’s Assistant Commissioner, Dan Daly, sent out a stark warning to care home operators and managers saying “Building owners and care home managers have a clear responsibility under fire safety laws to ensure that people living in their premises are safe from the risk of fire. If we find people are ignoring those responsibilities, we won’t hesitate to prosecute.”
A fire within a care service is a potentially devastating event for everyone involved and ensuring the safety the people in your care is both a major responsibility and a serious challenge for even the most experienced staff.
Even with the advantage of modern fire detection and prevention technology along with regular fire training and drills for your staff, unless your team know how to put training into action, you may not be ready when a fire strikes.
Read on to learn more about the steps that you can take to ensure you are confident that your staff will know exactly how to respond in a high pressure fire situation.
Fire drills often become a matter of routine rather than a means of actually checking the understanding of staff and exploring new methods of improving safety in the event of a fire. Unless properly managed, a fire drill can become a matter of going through the motions of assembling at the muster point and working through a familiar checklist, before heading back to work with little or no learning for any of those involved.
There is no point holding a fire drill unless it offers an effective way of improving the knowledge and competence of your staff so make every fire drill count in making your home a safer place to live and work.
5 Steps to Make Your Fire Drills Count
- Follow a clear plan: Have a plan in which everyone knows their responsibility and measure performance at each fire drill against this plan. Nominating key staff roles for particular tasks such as dialling 999 or carrying out the head count is helpful in ensuring that important tasks are carried out automatically, allowing the person in charge to focus on planning the investigation or evacuation stage.
- Practice, practice, practice: An annual fire drill is not enough to develop familiarity and competence in a fire situation. Ensure you hold unannounced fire drills at least once a month to ensure all staff become proficient in responding as a result of attending several drills a year.
- Use scenarios: Provide staff with real-life scenarios based on service users they actually know. Acting on the basis of the knowledge staff have about existing service users will make the situations more real. Ensure fire drills cover every part of your building at all times of day to be prepared for any situation.
- Use your equipment: Ensure staff use your evacuation equipment at every fire drill to develop the skill and confidence to use it in a pressurised situation. Regular use will build competence and will also highlight if a piece of equipment may have limitations that make it unsuitable for some service users or some areas of your building.
- Group feedback: End every fire drill by encouraging feedback from everyone involved. Comments and suggestions about how procedures could be improved can be incorporated in future fire drills. Asking questions will also help you to establish how well your staff understand your fire plan and if more specific training is required.