Thursday 26 September 2019

Three in Five Care Home Workers Concerned About Serious Risk of Fire

  • Fire Door Safety Week research reveals that three in five care home workers believe their workplace is at serious risk of a fire
  • Study also reveals alarming misconceptions over fire door safety, and high prevalence of unsafe practice
  • Awareness week raises the vital role of fire doors in protecting people when asleep in all types of multi-occupancy accommodation
  • Campaign is supported by London Fire Brigade which earlier this year announced it is stepping up its care home inspection regime

Care homes, where some of the most vulnerable people in society live, are believed to be at alarming risk of a fire, with three in five care home workers admitting to serious concerns according to new research released today to launch Fire Door Safety Week (23-29 September).

The study, which was conducted among 1,000 current and former care home employees, found that three quarters believe that more could be done to prevent or manage a fire, with three in five workers having reported fire safety concerns – but half (51%) say that unsatisfactory action was taken as a result.

There is also a worrying lack of clarity among care home workers around one of the key lines of defence in the event of a fire: fire doors. Nearly half (47%) said they did not understand the role a fire door plays in keeping a fire contained for a specified time, while over eight in ten (82%) admitted to deliberately keeping a fire door open – defeating its purpose.

Revealing worrying misconceptions over fire door safety, one in five care workers incorrectly believed that painting a regular door with flame proof paint made it a legitimate fire door, and the same proportion stating that the gap between the fire door and door frame doesn’t matter.

Alarmingly, almost three quarters (72%) said they had witnessed or were aware of fire doors being tampered with, including removing the door closer to make doors easier to open. Not only does this make the door closer redundant, when combined with other adjustments it could leave the fire door not fit for purpose in the event of a fire.

Fire doors placed on the market should withstand fire for 30 minutes and have test evidence to validate this. Respondents said that on average that it would take 25 minutes to evacuate the care home where they worked, with a quarter saying that it would take longer than 30 minutes – highlighting the vital importance of fire doors in holding back fire and smoke for this time

The research marks the start of Fire Door Safety Week, which this year focuses on the role that fire doors play in protecting people while asleep and at their most vulnerable – principally in specialised housing such as care homes, children’s homes and sheltered housing as well as houses in multiple occupation and communal properties.

Helen Hewitt, Chief Executive of the British Woodworking Federation, which organises Fire Door Safety Week, said:
“These highly concerning findings underline how crucial fire safety is, and the fundamental role that fire doors play – especially so in light of recent instances of damaging care home fires which have threatened the lives of residents. 
“Evacuation strategies in care homes are very specialised, accounting for the fact that many residents will need assistance. These strategies rely on the ability of fire doors to perform their function in holding back fire and smoke to allow adequate time for rescue.
“We all need to feel protected inside buildings, and especially so when we are asleep. Care homes and other specialised housing provide a living place for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. 
“The companies and other operators that run and maintain them have a responsibility to ensure their residents’ safety – and as an industry we need to continue to provide our expert support to ensure the correct specification, installation and ongoing maintenance of fire doors. 
“We hope that through raising awareness during Fire Door Safety Week, lives will be saved through a reappraisal of fire doors and safety arrangements in multiple occupancy buildings.”
Care home fire concerns

There is heightened concern over care homes due to the extremely vulnerable nature of the residents, most of whom are elderly and have poor mobility or eyesight or may be drowsy because of medication.

London Fire Brigade significantly increased its inspection schedule in care homes in London this year following fire safety concerns.

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly said:
“Earlier this year we found that of 177 care homes inspected in London, a third had inadequate or poorly maintained fire doors. These are one of a number of measures that need to be in place to help keep people safe from fire.
“We would urge all care home providers to ensure that they have a proper and up to date fire risk assessment and ensure they know what to do in the event of a fire to help protect some of London’s most vulnerable residents.”
Fire Door Safety Week Activities

Numerous events and campaign activities are being held throughout this year’s Fire Door Safety Week, which is run by the British Woodworking Federation and supported by a number of agencies, including the Home Office’s National Fire Safety campaign and the National Fire Chief’s Council.

A free toolkit of resources is available to help landlords, tenants and anyone with an interest in or responsibility for fire safety at a property. The week also sees the launch of a hard-hitting video [insert link] underlining the powerlessness of tenants and residents to protect themselves from fire if those responsible fail to take action over fire safety.

Brand new for this year’s campaign is an interactive mock criminal trial, aimed at providing manufacturers of fire safety products, consultants, contractors, designers, installers and other potential duty holders an insight into where they may be liable in the event of a fire incident.

Helen Hewitt said:
“Every year, Fire Door Safety Week raises awareness and helps save lives. We need to root out fire doors that are ill-fitted, damaged or poorly maintained and ensure that all buildings are equipped with fire doors that are fit for purpose. 
“Tenants and residents need to have confidence in them and have clear guidance about fire safety plans and measures, and be able to report concerns that are then actioned. The time has come for all parties to fully play their role in the critical matter of fire safety.”
Visit to find out more.

* Video copyright British Woodworking Federation

Why not Sign-up to Receive these Articles by Email each Day on our newsfeed site

Scroll down to read more articles like this which have been published recently on this blog

You can also read additional current and archived articles on our dedicated magazine website

Low Cost and Free Publicity - Your company can easily benefit from some publicity like this in return for a contribution towards our layout costs (£55 to £75 plus VAT), payable in advance via PayPal or credit card or receive the service absolutely free of charge if you advertise (see below).

We post articles up to twice a day and never delete them - we only archive them each year so that they continue to remain visible to search engines.

To have your story published - just send us your news item, logo and image(s) and we will review the material, make any necessary changes to the wording / wordcount and then advise you when it will be published.

If you are a regular advertiser placing series bookings or subscribing to our VIP Packages in our printed and online publications, you will qualify for a specific number of free postings on this blog while you continue to advertise with us.

Also, if you purchase one of our Online and Print Combo packages, Featured Articles or Advertorial packages, posting on this blog is included in the price.

For details and rates for all of our advertising options in print and online, download our media pack contact us or visit our website.

Door Industry Journal is a trading style of Avalon Innovations LLP Company Registration No. 06807833

No comments: