In the event of fire, most nursing home residents are unable to protect themselves. Therefore, it’s up to you as facility manager and/or owner to have the proper fire safety procedures in place to provide for the well-being of residents as well as staff.
It’s also important that the staff members understand that the safety of your residents is their number one priority.
Here are some fire safety strategies to help you prepare for a fire emergency:
- Have written fire procedures that all staff members understand. Train the staff, including doctors, nursing staff, maintenance workers, kitchen staff, and volunteers, so they know how to carry out their parts of the plan.
- Develop an evacuation floor plan that involves all staff members and practice it regularly. This plan should be visible on every level of your nursing home and by each exit. The best places to display floors plan are at the nurses’ stations. The floor plan should show the emergency exits, smoke barriers and where the utility shutoffs are located.
- Designate an evacuation meet up location so you can account for all patients and staff members. This will also help fire fighters inspect the building properly.
- Conduct periodic fire drills to test and evaluate the efficiency, knowledge, and response of your staff members in the event of a fire. You should schedule fire drills on a random basis but at least once every three months. Many healthcare facilities conduct fire drills without disturbing patients by selecting the location of the simulated emergency in advance and then closing the doors to patients’ rooms in that area.
- Be sure the fire alarm system is operating properly. Make certain that the system can detect fires, initiate the alarm and/or suppression systems, and notify occupants, especially staff members.
- Check that fire and life safety equipment and emergency plans comply with applicable codes/standards. It is also important that your staff members know how to handle fire emergencies, especially if automatic fire sprinkler systems and fire alarms fail.
- Keep fire doors closed at all times. This helps compartmentalize your facility to prevent the fire from spreading. In addition, there shouldn’t be any holes or breaks in the surface of the doors or the frames of the doors.
- Portable fire extinguishers must be provided in all healthcare facilities and only used by properly trained staff members.
Implementing fire protection safety measures, training nursing home staff members to properly respond to fire emergencies, and practicing evacuation procedures frequently, will go a long way toward keeping your residents and employees safe.