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In the near future Humberside Fire and Rescue Service will be hosting some seminars to inform persons with responsibility for fire safety in residential care premises about their duties under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Notices will be posted on our website and letters will be sent to premises to inform them of the dates and locations for these seminars.

If you have a fire safety responsibility for premises and would like to register your interest in attending future seminars please email your request to:

Advice and guidance

  • Ensure staff are trained in using emergency evacuation equipment (slides, evac chairs etc).
  • If using beds to evacuate, ensure that they will actually fit through openings.
  • Practice, practice, practice fire drills - use staff as role players to play the part of residents, and practice for the worst case scenario based on minimum staff levels.
  • Fit a sprinkler system – it’s like having a firefighter on standby 24/7 in every room.
  • Ensure that fire compartmentation is good and that fire will not spread. This may involve a more invasive fire risk assessment, especially in older buildings (looking above ceiling voids and under floors etc).
  • Ensure there are sufficient trained staff/carers who know how to react in case of fire and who can safely evacuate residents.
  • Ensure the main evacuation plans are suitable – consider using Progressive Horizontal Evacuation techniques where possible.
  • Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPS) must be kept up to date – vulnerable peoples' needs change over time, and plans can quickly become out of date.

Progressive Horizontal Evacuation

This strategy is likely to be necessary where the residents are dependent on staff to assist with their escape. It works on the principle of moving residents from an area affected by fire, through a fire resisting barrier to an adjoining fire protected area on the same level, where they can wait in a place of safety whilst the fire is dealt with, or await further evacuation down a protected route to total safety.

Fire risk assessment

This should be reviewed on a regular basis. When changes are made within the premises, the fire risk assessment should be updated accordingly to reflect these changes.

Maintenance and testing

Fire safety features within the premises, such as fire alarm systems, emergency lighting, fire doors and fire extinguishers, should be checked, serviced and maintained. These features are designed to give warning and protect lives by enabling residents to escape in an emergency. If they are not looked after suitably, the risk of harm is increased.

Air flow mattresses

These items are designed to assist in movement of the patient by adjusting the pressure on sores and ulcers often acquired my immobility. The mattresses are filled with air from a pump and powered by an electronic power supply. If air flow mattresses are exposed to a heat source, such as a cigarette, the mattress could burst. The effect that the air can have on a heat source can rapidly develop a fire. For this reason, we strongly advise against any form of heat source coming into close proximity to an air flow mattress.

Oxygen therapy kits

Some residents within care homes require the use of oxygen therapy kits due to respiratory conditions. This presents a similar risk to that of air flow mattresses. The oxygen supplied can cause a fire to develop rapidly, should they become involved. Therefore, smoking should not take place near oxygen therapy kits. Any source of heat such as candles, stoves and pans should be kept clear from oxygen therapy kits.

Emollient creams

Emollient creams and paraffin-based creams are regularly used for the treatment of dry skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema. Although these creams are generally safe in their use, if used in large quantities on areas of the body they can soak into clothing, bedding and dressings. On occasion a flammable residue may be left on items. If this residue is then exposed to a heat source such as a naked flame from a cigarette, cooking or a candle it may assist in the development of fire spread. Individual risk assessments should be carried out for those that use emollient creams, where control measures can be put in place such as regular washing of items, removing heat sources and seeking medical advice for alternative creams.

Mobility scooters

Storage of mobility scooters can be difficult due to their size. Their storage must not compromise residents’ ability to escape from a fire in an emergency. Research through the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) website has found that within three minutes of ignition, a mobility scooter can reach temperatures 375 degrees Celsius and quickly fill the room with thick smoke. Dedicated storage facilities for mobility scooters should be in place.

Memorandum of Understanding with Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) continues to reinforce its commitment to reduce community risk and vulnerability by developing key strategic partnerships to promote collaboration, provide consistency, reduce duplication and, where possible, share resources.

To support this, the NFCC has developed a Memorandum of Understanding and associated joint working protocol with the CQC on behalf of the Fire & Rescue Service. This underpins our commitment to support collaboration and information sharing, and joint working both strategically and locally in regions to reduce fire risk and improve protection for people in receipt of health and social care services. This will apply to both regulated premises (such as care homes, specialised housing) and to registered providers of care services in peoples own homes.

Whilst MOUs are not legally binding, they do carry a degree of seriousness, mutual respect and intent, and the MOU will allow NFCC and local FRSs to work with CQC representatives with consistency and clear objectives around joint working, fire prevention and promoting patient and public safety for those people in receipt of health and social care services.

Whilst there is no formal requirement for a local FRS to agree a local protocol, the current NFCC Strategy is clear in its role to encourage, negotiate and support all fire and rescue services in the UK. The Strategy goes on to state:

All fire and rescue services have local priorities, but by working together through the NFCC on the issues that affect us all, we can achieve solutions efficiently and effectively together and this MOU represents a good opportunity to deliver one such a solution.

You can view a copy of the MOU.