Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF), Fire Engineering and Fire Risk Management Consultants
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Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises - Fire Safety & Staffing Levels - Part 69

Posted by LWF: 09/04/2019 11:43

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, the aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 68, LWF discussed staffing levels in terms of fire safety and the importance of the staff in attendance having sufficient fire safety training. In part 69, we will continue looking at staffing levels and fire safety concerns.

The management of any healthcare venue must consider and agree what levels of staffing are required in order to deal with the immediate consequences of a fire. Further, they must ensure that those levels are maintained at all times. In addition, the responsibility to train all staff, including any agency, bank or part-time staff, in fire safety and patient evacuation methods also falls to the management staff. 

It is essential that where a staff member has not yet been trained, they are under the immediate direction of a fully-trained member of staff. The senior nurse on duty should take de facto control of the patient evacuation in a fire situation, unless arrangements have been made to the contrary or someone is sent to relieve him/her of this duty.

Management should design an operational policy which, in the event of fire, provides additional personnel to be sent to assist in the fire zone. While a non-healthcare organisation would not have a policy of sending further staff into an area of fire origin, a healthcare venue has a responsibility to its patients to provide a safe evacuation procedure which is unavoidably manned by staff. 

Although many healthcare premises are large buildings with many staff, it is the case that some healthcare organisations may consist of one or more smaller satellite premises located remotely from the main site. Such satellite locations may contain only a few patients under the care of a small number of nursing staff. Operational fire safety management and policies should take into account the circumstances of each location and provide solutions which satisfy the requirements of HTM 05-01. 

HTM 05-01 also provides guidance that suggests the appointment of a fire safety manager who will take on the primary responsibility for provision of trained staff on site at any point a fire may break out.

Fire safety advisers may also be appointed, and this should be considered by the healthcare organisation to suit their circumstances. However, in order to adhere to the terms of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order of 2005, Firecode strongly recommends the use of healthcare fire safety advisers to ensure adherence with existing and forthcoming fire safety regulations.

In part 70, LWF will begin to look at the subject of fire safety audits - their purpose and how frequently they should be undertaken.  In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact Peter Gyere on 0800 410 1130.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF's publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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