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Fire Safety Services (UK) Ltd have recently been awarded a place on the NHS London Procurement Partnership Building and Engineering Maintenance Framework Agreement (Lot 7) across many regions to provide NHS organisations with a variety of Fire Protection services. As part of this we thought it important to begin with sharing our top 5 fire safety tips for NHS Trusts with you. There are many more to consider, but these top 5 will give you some vital information on what to look for and act on:

1. The Importance of Fire Doors

Fire doors are a vital fire protection feature within healthcare properties but are often misused. By this I mean they are held open by non-compliant means. (I didn’t mention which common items are the usual suspects but I’m sure you have seen them!)

Normally where this occurs there is a reason for it. Normally it’s for areas of high use or to allow airflow through an area especially in warm environments or on the occasional warm day.

In these situations where constant wedging open of fire doors occurs control measures should be implemented to prevent this from happening. This can be by introducing approved door holding devices to the doors in question or by informing staff to conduct regular checks to ensure fire doors are kept shut.

To ignore this simple task could have major implications if a fire were to develop. Fire compartments would be breached due to the fire door not closing and the smoke seals or intumescent strips being rendered ineffective. This now allows smoke and hot gasses to travel through the building and voids putting persons in the building at risk.

All for keeping the fire doors wedged open …

2. Fire Risk Assessment of non-purpose built premises

Where staff accommodation is allocated in non-purpose built blocks of flats attention to fire spread must be considered.
Generally where a purpose built block of flats are used then compartmentation should be of a high standard which allows residents to adopt a delayed evacuation approach to a fire in the building. Each flat is constructed as a fire resisting box so residents are safer to stay in the flat but be prepared to leave if required to do so by the fire and rescue service.
Where the accommodation is a converted house or is built as an HMO (house of multiple occupation) using standard building materials the risk of fire spreading is increased and it is advised that the fire risk assessment covers areas where fire could spread unnoticed (within voids, roof spaces between flats and corridors.)

Further fire protective measures may be required to prevent fire spread; these may include upgrading fire stopping between compartments. Upgrading fire alarm coverage to ensure the earliest warning of fire. Upgrading fire resisting doors to rooms and areas of high hazard.
Also a suitable fire strategy should be carefully considered taking in to account the findings of the fire risk assessment.

3. Evacuation of Bariatric Persons

The term Bariatric derives from the Greek terms ‘baros’ (heavy) and ‘iatric’ (medical treatment). Bariatric evacuation is a huge problem and one which is becoming an increasing issue for health authorities and care providers alike. The evacuation of obese persons requires careful consideration as normally a standard evacuation chair will not be suitable. This limits the options considerably and other methods must be explored. Healthcare professionals appear to currently favour evacuation sheets or mattresses as the most practical way to evacuate bariatric persons.

4. Emergency Light Testing

As good practice says the emergency lighting in buildings should be tested monthly by a competent person. This does not need to be a qualified electrician.
If test switches are installed and a fish key provided then the test can be carried out by a designated person. This can be a member of the estates maintenance team or fire warden. On large estates where it would be unreasonable to expect that all lights are tested monthly a plan of testing should be implemented over the year so that all units are tested on a rolling programme.

5. Staff Fire Training

Firecode asks for all staff members to have annual fire safety training lasting 1 hour.
It would be difficult at least to train staff in horizontal evacuation techniques in an hour along with the mandatory information relating to fire awareness.
Training should be bespoke to the department staff where possible and where further training is needed additional courses should be offered to cover the subject in depth.
It is important to keep the annual hours training relevant and updated and local references and pictures will keep staff interested.

That’s our top 5 fire safety tips for NHS Trusts. If you’d like further help or would like to discuss any of your requirements, please do contact us.

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