​How to Improve Fire Safety and Prevention in Your Healthcare Facility

Posted by Fire Safety Equipment on 29th Nov 2022

​How to Improve Fire Safety and Prevention in Your Healthcare Facility

Between 2011 and 2015, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) received reports of more than 5,500 structure fires at healthcare facilities across the US. Even more daunting, this number –– the association's most recent data –– showed a year-on-year increase.

Healthcare facilities are a haven for those who need assistance, so they're the last place you want to put people at risk. Luckily, you can help prevent a fire outbreak at your facility. And if a fire should occur despite precautions, there are ways to be prepared.

Proper fire safety in any residential facility should include the following:

Here are the top fire safety and prevention tips so both staff and residents can stay safe.

In This Article

You can scroll down to each category to access specific information quickly.

However, we recommend that you read the entire article as soon as you have the time to do so. You should also ask your staff to read any policies and procedures you implement for fire safety. Remember: making the time now could save lives later.

In this article, we will discuss the following:

  • Part 1: Fire Prevention in Healthcare Facilities
  • Part 2: In Case of Fire at Your Facility
  • Part 3: What to Do Ahead of Time

Here's how to keep you, your staff, and your residents safe.

Part 1: Fire Prevention in Healthcare Facilities

Implement a No-Smoking Policy

Most healthcare facilities already have one, but if yours doesn't, it's time to implement a no-smoking policy. And be sure you also enforce it within a specified amount of feet of the building or grounds.

Smoking isn't just a health hazard for smokers and those around them. It's dangerous in a location that may have oxygen tanks, cleaning chemicals, and a kitchen area.

Post "No Smoking" signs at the facility's entrance and on each floor.

Practice Safety in the Kitchen

We've singled out the kitchen because it is the number 1 place for fires to break out in homes and buildings.

Make sure you practice fire safety when cooking. Keep appliances unplugged when not in use, keep flammable materials from heat or flame, and never leave the area when cooking or heating food (including in the microwave).

Keep Residents' Rooms Neat

A cluttered room is ideal for spreading fire, especially with papers, clothing, and other flammable materials strewn around.

Ask residents to keep clothing put away and to have papers organized and stored in fire-safe cabinets.

Part 2: In Case of Fire at Your Facility

Install the Right Fire Extinguishers

No one wants to think about the possibility of a residential facility fire, but if the worst happens, be prepared with the correct fire extinguishers.

Remember: safety ALWAYS comes first. Get residents out of the building as quickly as possible.

With that said, if the fire is small and contained and your exit from the room is not blocked, there are various fire extinguisher types.

For instance, the cooking area should have at least one Class K kitchen fire extinguisher in case of grease-spread electrical fires, while sleeping areas should have a minimum of 5 lb. Class A fire extinguisher unless the room contains specific tools or materials.

Check out our article here for a list of fire extinguisher types and where to place them.

Install Smoke Detectors

Knowing there is a fire before it gets out of control is key to preventing tragedies in a residential setting. The NFPA recommends that fire detectors be installed, at a minimum:

  • Inside every sleeping room
  • Outside every sleeping room
  • On every floor

In addition, healthcare facilities must have smoke detectors:

  • In elevator lobbies
  • Near any door that is held open by a magnet
  • In any unsupervised corridor or area
  • Inside locked areas
  • Inpatient suites between 7,500 and 10,000 sq. ft.

Install Fire Rated Access Doors

Fire–rated access doors withstand high temperatures for a set time without collapsing. Select and install the correct access doors for your facility's needs .Call us to find out what doors your residential facility needs and to get a free quote.

Create an Evacuation Plan

An evacuation plan is critical to the safety of your staff and residents. Even more important is making sure all employees practice evacuating the facility ahead of time. Don't wait until a fire breaks out to find out!

If you need help correctly creating an evacuation plan, use NFPA's home escape plan. You will need to modify it to accommodate the routes, likely places a fire might break out (such as the kitchen), and areas where residents may be (including restrooms).

Post Evacuation Maps on Each Floor

OSHA recommends that buildings post a clear evacuation map every 150-200 feet, inside each room and near stairwells and elevators.

Do not use elevators during a fire, as they may not work correctly.

Part 3: What to Do Ahead of Time

Hold Regular Fire Drills

Schedule regular fire drills. These will depend upon whether your staff is up to date on your current fire safety procedure and evacuation plan.

Make sure not to upset or frighten the residents. If your residents might be frightened, tell them in advance that you will be taking them outside to practice getting outdoors quickly.

Teach Your Staff How to Use Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are easy to use. Instructions are on the side of the extinguisher. An easy way to remember how to use an extinguisher is to think of the anagram PASS:

  • Pull the pin
  • Aim at the base of the fire
  • Squeeze the handle
  • Sweep the nozzle back and forth

Unfortunately, it's easy to panic in the middle of a fire, so make sure your staff knows how to use a fire extinguisher. Hold a brief class and have each staff member undergo the above procedure (without pulling the pin).

Have All Equipment Regularly Inspected

Fire safety device will only help if it is working correctly. Check batteries on smoke detectors regularly, and replace batteries as soon as you hear the detector beeping to signal it is running low. Have fire access doors been checked out by a professional? Last, be sure to have your fire extinguishers inspected routinely.

It helps to keep a chart for inspections (for example, once a month).

The above steps will go a long way toward ensuring those in your care stay safe. Questions? Contact us to learn about fire extinguishers, fire-safe doors, and more.