The press is constantly reporting on fire safety breaches and prosecutions due to non-compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
In March this year, it was once again reported that another Care Home was slapped with a massive £400,000 bill for five breaches of fire safety regulations.
Shaftesbury Care Group Ltd, which runs Donwell House Care Home in Washington, was fined £380,000, plus costs of £29,222, at Newcastle Crown Court.
This was uncovered when Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service investigated a blaze in the bedroom of a resident on Saturday 13th September 2014.
Officers discovered that fire doors had been wedged open when they should have been closed, and the company’s appointed contractor had condemned just under half of the building’s fire extinguishers.
Additionally, the company failed to carry out a number of actions identified in a fire risk assessment, including installing electronic devices, which would have allowed fire doors to be held open while enabling them to be quickly closed in an emergency.
During the fire, the bedroom door of an elderly resident’s room was wedged open. As a result, smoke and heat quickly filled the communal corridor and spread into a neighbouring bedroom, which also had its door wedged open.
Also, there was a delay in identifying the room where the fire had started, and as a result an elderly woman became trapped in her bedroom.
Staff were therefore unable to evacuate her from the building due to the amount of smoke and heat in the corridor.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the building through a first floor window and rescued the pensioner. She was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, for treatment.
This seemingly appears to be common faults highlighted on Fire Risk Assessments in Care Homes and were also some of the major fire safety breaches reported at the devastating Rosepark Care Home Fire back in January 2004 where 14 elderly residents died.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Community Safety Chris Lowther said: “The breaches found Donwell House care home put the lives of residents and staff at risk. We have around 5,000 interactions with businesses annually, where we work to educate and inform them of their responsibilities to comply with the law.”
“This means that there is seldom the need for prosecution. However, where lives are put at risk and the law has been broken, we will not hesitate to prosecute. This fine imposed by the judge is one of the most significant we are aware of for a case of this kind. It should serve as a warning to businesses, and especially care home operators, that failure to carry out their responsibilities regarding fire safety can and will have serious consequences.”
How can you avoid prosecution in your Care Home?
The answer to this question is simple if you make sure you have the right fire safety strategy in place for your premises.
Since the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 fire certificates are no longer issued.
Instead onus falls onto the ‘responsible person’ to take appropriate action to prevent fire and protect building users in the event of fire.
The first step is to ensure your fire risk assessment is up to date which will make you aware of the plan of action you need to take in order to comply with the law.
Make sure you use a fire company who are third-party accredited. This means they have been independently assessed and the quality of their work has been verified as being to a high standard. The same also applies to the fire risk assessor.
Fire Safety Services are a third party certificated company. It demonstrates competency and specifies that fire safety organizations have the required technical and quality management capabilities and our risk assessment staff meet appropriate standards.
If you need help with your fire safety strategy and want to ensure you comply with the law, contact one of our expert team today on 08000 234114
Original Source: Sunderland Echo – Click here for more information.
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