Domiciliary care services must ensure the health and safety of all adults, staff and visitors. This includes fire safety management, which includes arrangements to ensure:
- office fire prevention systems and maintenance are in place to prevent fires starting and any subsequent spread of fire;
- fire detection systems are in place and maintained;
- staff are effectively trained in how to prevent fire and how to respond in the event of a fire.
The person with overall responsibility for fire safety is known as the ‘responsible person’. This is the service / office manager. Depending on the number of people who work in the office setting, the responsible person should designate one or more members of staff to assist in this function and to assist in the event of evacuation in implementing fire evacuation procedures. These staff are known as fire marshals.
The service manager or in their deputy / delegate must take overall responsibility for the coordination of all information during an emergency evacuation. This includes mobilising fire marshals and making the necessary decisions to ensure the safety of people and the building.
In calculating fire marshal requirements for any service, the service manager can use the St. John’s Ambulance calculator.
2. Fire Risk Assessment
The service should appoint a competent person to undertaken fire risk assessments. These should be carried out for each property that the service manages and should be updated every three years or sooner if there are any significant changes occur (for example change of use, structural change, change of needs of adults who use the service) or if there have been changes to legislation.
The fire risk assessment may lead to actions that need to be taken to ensure properties are as safe as possible. The competent person, the service manager, and any other relevant service personnel should agree and document what the action is, who has been assigned to lead and the timescale allocated to deal with it. Actions that have been completed should be documented as completed by the service manager.
Any actions that have not been completed due to the nature, size, cost or complexity of the risk for example and remain unresolved, should be reported to and discussed by the board of directors who should decide how to implement the outstanding actions.
2.1 Fire prevention measures in adults’ home environments
Fire prevention and fire prevention should be part of the risk assessment conducted prior to offering the adult a service (see Positive Risk Taking and Risk Assessments).
Staff should consider talking to the adult, and their family members as appropriate, about making a referral to the local fire service who should conduct an assessment, put in prevention measures such as smoke detectors as required and give fire prevention and safety information and advice. This is especially relevant where adults are living alone, are hoarding – particularly rubbish or flammable items such as newspapers (see Self-Neglect and Hoarding) or have mental health issues or learning disabilities.
3. Routine Checks
The service must ensure that all necessary planned maintenance of fire safety equipment and other provisions are carried out to the agreed standard. The process in place in the service should ensure that any faults identified in the routine checks are reported to the service manager who will arrange for them to be rectified.
4. Fire Safety Training
All service staff must receive fire safety awareness training as a mandatory part of their induction. Service managers and other designated staff must receive additional mandatory fire risk assessment and evacuation planning training.
In addition a sufficient number of employees will be nominated to act as fire marshals. These nominated employees will receive training from an appropriately trained service manager or designated responsible person, to support the safe evacuation of a building in the event of a fire. In such circumstances, fire marshals must ensure that all persons are out of the building, and do not re-enter until safe to do so. They should also coordinate practice fire alarms.
5. Identifying a Fire Hazard
All staff must report any fire hazards immediately, should they identify them. They should make their report to the service manager or the designated responsible person/s and complete an incident reporting form where an accident or incident has occurred due to a risk not being managed and in the event of a ‘near miss’.
6. Evacuation Plans
The service manager or designated responsible person/s should be responsible for the preparation of evacuation plans for any member of staff in the service, who may need assistance in evacuating the property during an emergency. Any specialist equipment required to enable the person to do so should be made available.
Evacuation plans should be practiced through the use of regular evacuation drills.
7. Fire Incidents and Investigation
In the event of discovering a fire, staff in the area of the fire must raise the alarm if the fire alarm has not sounded automatically.
Fire marshals must take the lead in managing the evacuation until the fire service arrives. They must ensure that the area of the fire is kept clear and that no re-enters the area where the fire is located.
When the fire service arrives, the service / office manager must inform the fire service of the following:
- how many people are in the building or unaccounted;
- any special hazards in the building (such as oxygen cylinders or items that could explode / create noxious gases);
- the likely point where the fire started;
- the layout of the building.
8. Fire Safety Reports
The board of directors should receive reports of any fires which have occurred in a service property which should include the following information:
- the reason for the fire occurring and what action has been taken to prevent the risk of a similar fire occurring again;
- were people evacuated for their safety and how long did the evacuation take;
- whether there were sufficient fire marshals on duty at the time of the evacuation, as per the St John’s Ambulance Fire Marshal Calculator;
- whether all the fire equipment worked, for example call points, door closures and if not, what remedial action has been taken;
- the planned preventative maintenance schedule for fire alarm systems, doors and other fire prevention systems;
- whether evacuation plans and risk assessments ensured safety during the emergency and if not, what action has been taken to remedy any future risk factors;
- lessons learnt and how these have been communicated to the staff team.
Where required, the service should appoint a health and safety advisor or other suitably trained member of staff, to investigate any issues relating to fire safety. Any learning will be shared across service with the aim of learning from incidents (see Quality Assurance and Learning Lessons).