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Elevator Smoke Curtains

A guide on how to find the best fitted smoke curtains that will fully fit your elevator. This article will discuss the strength of the smoke curtains and how they can protect people from fires in a building or within an elevator.

Whether your elevator is located in a hotel, apartment, business building or even a shopping centre, one of the most dangerous things that can happen when people are inside is the outbreak of a fire. After all, these sorts of businesses and commercial areas can bring in a wide range of people, but also lead to the dangers from these people smoking, turning on heating products, utilising electrics, cooking or even just looking to do arson damage to the building itself.

With such a high volume of people (such as customers and employees) in these buildings, this will create even more potential danger, as they will be tightly packed together and looking for an exit in the event of a fire. While most of these people will make it out, the worst situation is that some of them may become trapped within an elevator as the fire rages on.

How will they be able to breathe whilst trapped in such a small space, especially if the fire causes the building to flood with smoke? Worse still, if the doors do open but then get partially stuck, this will allow the smoke to travel into the elevator, leaving the people with very little chance of escape.

According to FEMA, asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio. This why it is essential that you fully utilise the idea of adding a smoke curtain to your elevators.

For the sake of your clients and staff’s protection, and also as a means of protecting your insurance if there is fire damage to your building, you must always make sure your building fully utilises as many safety techniques as possible. A fire curtain is a modern technique that could truly save lives, as well as protect the elevator itself from any fire damage.

Why can’t I just use a traditional fire and smoke protection product?

Installing sprinklers and a fire alarm and having a fire extinguisher can be useful for providing the minimum necessary for retaliation against any potential fire hazards. Indeed, combining these fire safety essentials with any fire-resistant materials for the walls of your elevator or building in general can mean that the fire is quickly stopped before it gets out of hand.

However, consider how many of these products you may need to fill a large building. For a smaller business, it would not be a problem to install a fire extinguisher next to an elevator, but if you own or are working in a larger corporation or commercial building, you will need to buy a lot of these products in order to have them fully incorporated into the building.

You may even find that you struggle to locate the products due to the size of the building itself, which can be potentially catastrophic when an actual fire has broken out.

In addition to this, many companies and commercial buildings often can’t include traditional fire prevention tools in elevators due to their size, as well as the potential that these tools can be misused and damage the elevator itself, such as with any foam or water from sprinklers or extinguishers. This means that, if a fire breaks out inside an elevator, then this fire could quickly spread or destroy your elevator altogether.

Instead of simply buying a traditional product, it would be wiser to combine such products with modern fire prevention techniques. Instead of simply having a water, foam or powder extinguisher, you can also utilise a sound wave extinguisher or a fire blanket.

If people need to be evacuated from a building due to a fire, then why not consider combining an elevator smoke curtain to protect people from the heat and smoke of the fire, and an evacuation plan and safety meet-up point? This would mean that, if people become trapped in the building, there will always be somewhere they can go to seek shelter from any poisonous fumes or the heat.

Combine old fire safety techniques with modern techniques, as this combination can allow for a foolproof plan for saving lives should any fires appear within a building.

What is an elevator smoke curtain?

When a fire breaks out, the first thing that anyone trapped in the building is going to consider is where can they seek shelter. After all, the building will be quickly heating up, doors may be blocked and the smoke will be severely impacting their breathing.

Many people would deem hiding in an elevator a terrible idea in this situation, especially due to smoke inhalation. However, if an elevator uses a smoke curtain, this can prevent smoke from seeping into the elevator. It can also protect against the heat.

The smoke curtain can be in any design to suit your building, but it can be unrolled with the press of a button and used to shield the doors and any spaces from incoming smoke or heat. Once the fire has been quelled, then the elevator curtain can be rolled back up. Alternatively, it can come installed with a button that, once pressed, will automatically raise the curtain.

An elevator smoke curtain can also be a fantastic asset when a fire actually breaks out inside an elevator. If your elevator falls victim to a potential fire and you do not want it to spread, then the first thing you would need to do is unroll or press the automated elevator smoke curtain into place. This will prevent any smoke or fire from escaping from the elevator until the fire department arrives at your building.

This curtain will not be able to keep the elevator fully protected for a long period of time, as the fire will still be able to spread. However, the curtain will give you some extra time to take any guests, clients or staff to safety. It will also contain any smoke or fumes within the elevator itself. Once the fire department arrives, they will be able to remove the smoke curtain and put out the fire.

What are the requirements of an elevator smoke curtain?

While your elevator smoke curtain can come in a wide range of materials and colours, the first thing that it will need to fit any regulatory requirements is to be fire- and smoke-proof. Smoke curtain manufacturers usually use the term “curtain material” for their curtains’ material that consists of a mixture of cotton, steel, reinforced wire, woven glass fibre and silver polyurethane.  

In order to protect an elevator from both smoke and fire, an elevator smoke curtain can consist of a harder barrier and a fabric curtain, giving it two layers for protecting and stopping any escaping smoke, as well as keeping the temperature maintained for at least 4 hours.

The fabric itself must react efficiently to varying pressures and act as a sail to keep any escaping smoke or gases trapped. In order for the fabric to be optimised, some curtains even use off-set rollers and overlapping curtains to make sure any flames escaping from the steel barrier will still be kept behind the curtain.

Who can own elevator smoke curtains?

Technically, anyone can own elevator curtains as long as their building contains an elevator and is wide enough to fit them. However, it would be recommended that elevator smoke curtains are used mainly for commercial buildings and any sort of main housing estate.

That way, they can be utilised by a larger range of people on a daily basis, as there may be more risk associated with fires due to higher usage of the elevator and the larger population of the building.

What features can my elevator smoke curtains have?

If you are wondering what sort of smoke curtains can optimise the fire safety of your building, then you may want to consider having the following features added to your smoke curtains:

  • Double or triple fabric layering
  • Automatic movement
  • Plated bases
  • Horizontal/vertical placement
  • Fire shutters
  • Additional ventilation systems
  • Additional smoke plating
  • Additional evacuation barrier/curtains placement

How long can smoke curtains keep a fire or smoke inside an elevator?

As your elevator smoke curtains are designed to maintain a certain heat and pressure within the elevator, they can keep people protected, or a fire maintained, for at least 4 hours. This depends on the material used and how many layers you choose to have.

The stronger your curtain’s material and the more flexible it is under heat and pressure, the longer it will be able to last to protect your clients/staff from a fire and smoke inhalation. You will need a product that can last as long as necessary for the fire department to be called and arrive at your building to put out the fire. This is why it is recommended to always look for curtains that are made from steel or strong metal.

What sort of elevator smoke curtains can I purchase?

If you are interested in finding the appropriate smoke curtain for your elevator, then you will need to consider how big your building and elevator truly is. While these curtains will not appear ugly or ruin the aesthetic of your building, they can be expensive and you will need to consider whether or not you solely want a fire-proof curtain, a smoke-proof curtain or a combined product.

You should always spend the appropriate amount of money on the safety of your building and its customers and staff, which is why it is always best to buy a combined curtain.

Your curtain can also come with the following features:

  • Automatic – If you are after top-of-the-line technology alongside a smooth design, then you may want to consider investing in an automatic curtain. These curtains contain sensors that detect heat or smoke. When they detect it, the curtain will automatically be brought down to protect the elevator. However, it will also contain a button that will allow it to be hidden away again, just in case the fire was a false alarm. 

Keep in mind that, while an automatic curtain can be useful, it does contact electrical wiring that could become hazardous. However, as this is protected by the curtains, it remains very unlikely that this wiring will come in contact with the flames unless the product is damaged.

  • Gravity fail-safe curtains – Automatic curtains can be quite expensive to fit – so, if you are looking for a cheaper variation of them, you may want to consider installing a gravity fail-safe curtain. If this curtain detects heat or smoke, the fire alarm will be alerted and will power the curtains to instantly descend using gravity instead of an automated system.

As soon as the threat has passed and the fire alarm system is reset, the curtains can be either adjusted to their usual position, automatically retracted or rolled back up with the use of a roller and key system. These products can be powered by an electrical system or through a battery backup system, meaning that you will always be in control of your curtains even if the main power supply of your building fails.

What sort of designs can elevator smoke curtains come in?

This depends entirely on the architecture of your building, as well as what colours you think will suit the appearance of the elevator. You cannot visually differentiate between the materials of the smoke curtains themselves, such as copper, steel, cotton or wiring additions.

If you want your smoke curtain to be in a specific colour or have additional patterns or features added to it, be sure to talk to your provider to see what sort of colours and features they can use to make your curtain unique to your own building. However, keep in mind that you should always put the curtain’s efficiency first!

Fire curtain in the theatre

This article will discuss the appearance of the fire curtain in the theatre. It will discuss its uses and how it can prevent the spread of a fire from the stage to the auditorium. This article also looks at the history of fire safety, including fire curtains, in the theatre.

If you go to the theatre often, you may well have seen the safety curtain in front of the more decorative dress curtain descend and ascend again at some point during the show. This has most likely been during the interval, or possibly finally after the last encore, when it descends to signal the definite end of the show.

If you have keen eyes, you will probably have noticed that, whatever show you go to see within a traditional theatre, whenever the fire curtain comes down, the scenery is all behind it. The fire curtain, then, is the final barrier between the audience and the show.

Even in a traditional proscenium arch theatre, this curtain comes in front of the beautiful red curtains that represent the theatre as an idea. However, what is the fire curtain, and how did it come to be part of the theatrical experience around the world?

What is a fire curtain?

Fire curtains are heavy curtains traditionally made of iron or fibreglass which are designed to be able to drop on the front of the stage, in the event that a fire breaks out on-stage, to ensure that the audience is not endangered.

Throughout history, theatres have sought to incorporate as many effects and pyrotechnics as the state of technology has allowed – and, with health and safety not always having caught up to the state of the art, this has led to many theatre fires over the centuries.

The most famous British example of a theatre fire is probably Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre, which burnt down in 1613 after a cannon, fired as part of a play, misfired into the thatch of the roof, starting a blaze which burnt the building to the ground.

This is one example of pyrotechnics which could not have been stopped by an iron safety curtain. Indeed, the new Globe Theatre is one theatre which, due to its accurate recreation as a polygonal theatre with no wings or proscenium arch, does not have a safety curtain. Wherever safety curtains are used, the risk from pyrotechnics is greatly reduced.

The Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona has suffered two major fires since its opening in 1847. The first, in 1861, gutted much of the stage and the auditorium. Disaster struck the theatre again in 1994, when a spark from a routine repair fell on the flammable stage curtain and set it alight very quickly. These incidents point to the importance of fire curtains as preventative measures.

How can fire curtains be operated?

There are multiple systems for operating fire curtains. Most modern systems run on an automatic system ensuring that, if fire is detected by the system, the curtain descends on the front of the stage, protecting the audience.

In some older theatres, there are still backstage levers that the stage manager can pull to make the curtain lower manually, a measure which gives a person backstage a hand in preventing disaster early.

Many modern systems run water down the curtain as it descends to attack a potential fire on as many fronts as possible and ensure that there is time to get the blaze under control before the auditorium is destroyed.

What is the history of the fire curtain in the theatre?

The fire curtain was first seen in a British theatre in 1794 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, an industry leader in many regards. The fire curtain, like all early fire curtains, was made of iron, which led to the theatre slang of calling the theatre curtain an “iron” in English theatre.

Some theatres did take up the fire curtain over the course of the early 19th century, but this was not legally mandated at all venues. It was not until after the tragic fire of 1887 at the Royal Theatre, Exeter, which claimed nearly two hundred lives and could have been prevented by the presence of a fire curtain, that they started to become the norm in theatres across Britain and America.

However, these changes were slow in coming and sometimes not treated as real requirements of running an effective theatre. The cost of installing a high-functioning fire curtain could also be considerable, especially when being fitted into an existing theatre for the first time.

While the addition of safety curtains was taken up widely, they were not always taken up in the most effective ways. In the case of the 1903 Iroquois Theatre fire in Chicago, the theatre was not well-designed for fire issues, and the curtain itself jammed during a stage fire while only half-descended. This allowed the fire to spread beyond the stage. This and other design failings led to the deaths of six hundred people.

After the disaster at the Iroquois Theatre, there was a more widespread realisation of the importance of good fire safety in theatres. Legislation gathered momentum across Britain and America and elsewhere in the following centuries for the increased importance, although not always the necessity, of stage curtains.

In Britain, a law was passed requiring that the curtain be lowered during every performance to reassure audience members that they were safe from fires, and this law has been taken up in other parts of the world as well. This is one reason why the curtain is often lowered during the interval and then raised again – although, for shows with pyrotechnics, there is also a more general safety concern about the ever-present danger of fires breaking out.

Are all theatrical safety curtains constructed safely?

For much of the 20th century, asbestos was used in the construction of the safety curtains used in theatre safety curtains around the world. While asbestos was used and acknowledged as deadly as far back as Roman times, in the 20th century, it was repackaged as a miraculous wonder material and used in a wide range of purposes.

The qualities of sound dampening and very effective fire-proofing made it an ideal material for safety curtains. Its use in safety curtains was not an immediate health hazard, as in the use of sprayable paints containing asbestos, which can cause serious health issues due to their blowing around the air and environment.

Asbestos in safety curtains was often sealed safely away from the air, but still represented a serious health risk, which led to theatres overhauling their curtains in the latter quarter of the twentieth century, when the negative effects on public health were realised.

Modern safety curtains have switched towards fully iron and fibreglass since the 1980s, with the focus on ensuring that they are not a long-term health risk to the theatre staff.

While the safety curtain is designed to protect the audience in case of emergency, it is important that long-term exposure to a safety device does not result in a health crisis among the theatre technicians building up slowly over time. The newer curtains avoid this with their safer constituent parts, although fibreglass can still shed material over time and lead to coughing fits.

Do all theatres need safety curtains?

While all large theatres tend to require stage curtains, in the United States, it is acceptable for smaller theatres to merely have fire retardant tabs, black curtains made of material that does not burn. The determining point in size is whether the stage is higher than 15 metres/50 feet.

While only larger theatres than this in the United States require safety curtains, in the United Kingdom, there is a more ambiguous measure.

All larger British theatres contain safety curtains, and the rule for proscenium arch theatres at present is that they should offer protection to the audience against fire to prevent the kind of disasters which struck in the past in events such as the Iroquois Theatre fire in Chicago in 1903.

In most older theatres, this is in the form of the theatre iron, and the state of the law can leave some uncertainty. A 2005 Act rules that all fire measures must be kept in working order, implying that theatres with safety curtains in place must maintain them.

However, in the past, it has been possible for theatres to dispense with their fire curtains after they were found inoperable, and still continue to run as theatres. This was only possible if the theatre showed that its fire safety plans, sprinkler systems and evacuation plans were up to the task of preventing the causes of previous theatre fires.

Many smaller venues built recently are constructed without any curtain at all, and different contexts often determine whether or not a safety curtain is needed, as do the choices of the local authority. The modern need for a safety curtain can also be determined by the presence, or lack thereof, of other safety features.

What are the major advantages of theatrical safety curtains?

With a lot of extremely high-powered machinery in the stage, the fire safety curtain has kept audiences safe for over two hundred years. Having the curtain ready to descend speedily is essential in preventing smoke inhalation among the audience.

Even in a large auditorium, and especially in a small space, the effects of smoke for audience members with sensitive throats or lungs or with conditions such as asthma can present a serious health concern even in the event of a small, containable fire. In the event of a slow-moving larger blaze, smoke inhalation can be a deadly threat to everyone in the auditorium.

The fire curtain’s main role is, of course, to keep the fire contained away from the audience. In modern theatres, this is combined with a “chimney”. This is a large opening above the stage and backstage area which will, in the event of fire, open wide to the sky above, ensuring that the fire can escape up and out of the theatre and that the only areas destroyed are the set and backstage areas.

Safety curtains are often designed with sprinkler heads for water to run down from a sprinkler system onto the stage as well. This further distils the effect of fires on-stage and brings a lowered chance of fires spreading.

With this said, many stage fires in the 20th century were caused by electrical equipment with a very high wattage getting wet on-stage and short-circuiting, so has brought its own risks. However, these risks are balanced out by the presence of the safety curtain – which, in the event of this emergency, would ensure that any further issues were not a danger to the audience and only affected the set and backstage area.

Safety curtains are also an incredibly useful safety feature in the event of a fire when the theatre is empty. While some smaller venues do not have safety curtains and instead rely on fire route planning and good practice for evacuating a full theatre, in the unlikely event of a fire starting while the theatre is empty, these measures may not be able to stop the fires spreading from the stage into the auditorium.

In this case, without a safety curtain in place to fall automatically to curtail the process, the time it would take for a fire to be discovered would most likely result in a blaze of the kind seen in the late 19th century, when theatre fires were all too common.

Do productions ever make their own unique safety curtains?

Many theatres have highly decorative safety curtains, partly to distract from how unattractive an unpainted iron curtain is. The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is one example, with an ornate gold inlay, but individual productions such as Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty and the London production of Heathers also had their own stylised safety curtains which reflected the imagery of their productions. These small extra steps helped to add to the audience experience of the show while ensuring a safe show for all involved.

Domestic Fire Curtains

A guide to assist you in finding a domestic fire curtain that can protect you and your home from a fire. It will also discuss which materials are most appropriate for your fire curtain and how you can use it to add to the aestheticism of your home.

Purchasing a fire curtain does not only have to be for a commercialised building or a large business building. Every home that utilises electricity or cooking instruments could be at risk of a fire. Even seasonal events could produce products that become a fire hazard problem – for instance, if any of the electrical wiring sparks on the Christmas tree could make it catch fire.

That is why it is important to have your home fully protected in order to make sure you can retain your domestic bliss. A domestic fire curtain can ensure your safety while retaining the comfort and aesthetic picture of your home.

After all, until your domestic fire curtain is needed, it will be completely out of sight. If need be, then it can also be used to replace any non-loadbearing walls, fire doors and un-insulated glazing that could be a potential fire hazard.

If your house has suffered any potential damage over the years that you have been living there, then you may even find that your domestic fire curtain can be used to replace a wall, wall or window glazing, doors, serving hatches or even your ceiling.

Domestic fire curtains can remain semi-translucent or come in an array of colours that will suit your surroundings. For the best results, consult with your provider and then compare the colours of the fire curtain to your home. That way, you can see what colours would best suit your surroundings, meaning that you do not have to lose the aesthetic quality of your home due to your safety addition.

What is a domestic fire curtain?

If you consider the traditional means of fire prevention, you may think that the only things you can provide are either a sprinkler system or just a fire extinguisher that is filled with water, powder, foam or CO2. However, can you truly imagine any of these items being placed within your home?

Not only can they potentially damage your home’s interior, whether that is due to water damage or staining from the power and foam, they will also take away from the aesthetic of each room and take up space that could be used for suitable furniture.

The only traditional form of fire protection can be through glazing within your windows and walls, as well as a fire alarm that can alert the domestic inhabitants or the fire brigade.

This is where a domestic fire curtain be extremely useful, as it can not only be hidden away but also provide your home with the protection it needs in order to contain a fire. The domestic fire curtain will contain a fire and prevent it from spreading to other parts of your house.

In addition to this, you will find that domestic fire curtains will prevent smoke and any other toxic fumes from moving from one room to another. This means that, if anyone is trapped in the building, they will be protected from the worst of the fire.

Why should I buy a domestic fire curtain?

Buying a domestic fire curtain can be a fantastic way of modernising the safety of your home. While you can keep traditional fire safety appliances on hand, such as a fire extinguisher or a fire alarm, modern safety technology can keep you and your family safe. This is especially the case if there is a fire that you simply cannot put out without the assistance of the fire brigade.

A domestic fire curtain can provide you with the control you need to contain the fire and then get you (and your family) out of your house to safety. This is because the automatic door will always slot into place once it detects a fire and will create a safe barrier between you, the flames and the smoke.

This also means that it will give you the time to phone the fire brigade before the flames start spreading through the different rooms of the house. If the fire is contained in one room, less of your property will become damaged and so may need to be replaced. As most fire curtains also contain emergency exits, the fire brigade will be able to easily enter the room to control the fire.

What features does my domestic fire curtain have?

If you are considering having a domestic fire curtain installed in your home, that curtain can include additional features for optimising the safety of any sort of room. However, you may also want to consider the following additions to your fire curtain:

  • Double or triple fabric layering
  • Automated fire curtain movement
  • Plated bases
  • Horizontal/vertical placement
  • Fire shutters
  • Additional ventilation systems
  • Emergency escape mechanisms/exit ways
  • Additional smoke plating

How will a domestic fire curtain protect me?

Your domestic fire curtain will be made out of two layers in order to force the fire to remain in the room where it started. The main purpose of the domestic fire curtain is to ensure that the fire and smoke are not able to spread to different rooms in the house. If the fire is contained, then it will be more easily manageable for the fire department and also protect the house’s residents.

This is why your fire curtain will make sure that, if a fire starts in a room, its fire alert system will force the fabric to drop over the doorway and contain the fire within one room. The curtain will be made of a harder metal and a non-flammable fabric.

As the curtain will create a layering effect, this means that, if the harder metal surface does not stop the flames or the smoke, the second fabric’s layering will keep it trapped until the fire department can release the barrier and then put out the fire.

Your curtain will also be powered by a main power supply that is connected directly to your fire hazard system. However, should this power system fail due to an electrical fault, you can also use battery control in order to make sure your curtain’s automatic features are always powered and ready to be used.

In addition to this, you can also utilise the split drop of the curtain to allow for emergency access from the fire brigade or anyone who is to move away from the fire. This will only allow for the fabric side of the domestic fire curtain to drop down to allow for access both in and out of the room.

If you are looking for a way to communicate with people outside of the building, your curtain can also come with an integrated radio receiver that will allow you to communicate with the fire brigade and any potential channels that you have contacted previously. This will make sure that you are fully in contact with others who can help you to put out the fire in your building.

For how long can a domestic fire curtain protect me?

A fire curtain’s main purpose is to provide control over erratic behaviour of a spreading fire. It can become more of a hazard in a smaller space, as this means that it may spread at a faster rate throughout the domestic household.

There is very little time when it comes to preventing the spread of a fire, and this is why your fire curtain is programmed to detect the fire quickly before using its layered system to keep the fire and smoke in the same place.

The amount of time for which it can prevent the fire from spreading should be around 4 hours; however, it will completely depend on the material from which your door is made. The stronger the metal and less flammable the fabric, the longer your domestic fire curtain can protect you.

Your curtain will need to be able to handle the pressure of the heat and be flexible enough to keep it maintained in one area of the room. Therefore, always keep this in mind when you choose the material of your domestic fire curtain, as your choice of material could otherwise become the main reason why your safety is compromised.

What sort of material can my domestic fire curtain be made out of?

If you are considering what metal you would prefer for your curtain, it is best to pick something made of either steel or copper. These metals are practically flame-resistant and can heat up to handle the pressure of the fire while also remaining flexible enough to stand against it.

If you are choosing a second layer to combat against the flames and any escaping smoke, you may want to consider tight, stainless steel wiring and cotton fabric, as these can last against high temperatures and make sure that the smoke is caught between the fibres of the fabric.

What additional benefits can a domestic fire curtain provide?

Not only can a domestic fire curtain improve the safety of your home, it may also help you to get cheaper premiums for your home insurance.

One of the main things that your insurance company is looking for is assurance that your home is fully protected against any potential damage. Whether that is damage from a burglary, water damage or even fire damage, the insurer will be looking to you to provide examples of what you can do to prevent these accidents from taking place.

While you can prove that you are looking after your home through the traditional methods of fire prevention, such as a fire alarm, purchasing a modern domestic fire curtain for your home can prove that you are taking steps to ensure that all of your rooms are fully protected from any potential damage if a fire should occur.

As you are proving that you are taking steps to keep your house protected, your insurer may be willing to offer you a discount, as you have proven that you are less likely to make a claim due to an accident within your home.

Are there extra features that can come with the domestic fire curtain?

If you are looking to add some more features to your safety curtain to optimise its fire control abilities, you may want to consider installing an automatic or gravity fail-safe curtain brand.

Automatic

An automatic design is used to instantly detect a potential fire hazard, and thus react accordingly in order to contain it. If your curtain contains fire sensors that detect heat or smoke, then the safety curtain will be automatically unravelled to protect any people outside of the room.

However, it will also contain a button with which you can end the safety processes if the fire is a false alarm. Once the button has been triggered, the automatic design will move away, out of sight.

Gravity fail-safe curtain brand

An automatic domestic fire curtain can be extremely expensive, so you may want to consider a cheaper option in the form of gravity fail-safe curtains. If this curtain detects heat or smoke, it will trigger the fire alarm and so instantly power the curtains to descend.

This will be done through gravity rather than by an automated system. Once you are ready to put the curtains away, you can roll them up by hand, move them up automatically or have them rolled back into position using mechanical rotas.

What designs can I get for my domestic fire curtain?

While your main focus on your domestic curtain should be the material of which it is made, if you are looking for your curtains to aesthetically match your house and design tastes, you may want to consider talking to us in order to find the perfect colour for your curtain.

They will present you with your colour options. Compare them to the design of the room and your provider would be happy to create your own personalised curtain.

Fire Safety in Care Homes

A guide that discusses what fire safety procedures need to be implemented in a care home to ensure the safety of everyone who lives there. This guide includes what potential training techniques could be useful in the event of a fire and how often you should practice them. 

When you work in a care home, you need to remember that your first priority is protecting the safety of your clients. Your clients are in a care home to ensure that they receive the treatment and support they need to continue a healthy lifestyle even in old age.

Their quality of life must remain in a good state with a caring hand from all of the staff at the care home. However, the emergence of a fire will truly shake everyone’s confidence. Your elderly patients may no longer feel safe on the premises, and your staff may want to work in a building that contains less of a fire hazard.

You cannot predict when a fire may appear, as it can be caused through the simplest of things, such as through cooking, an electrical wiring problem or a power fault. However, you can still protect the elderly inhabitants and staff that work within the care home.

You can do this by installing a training timetable that everyone must follow to make sure that everyone can get out of the building without anyone getting hurt.

Why does my care home need to be concerned about fire safety?

The domestic residents of a care home may be elderly or of ill health, meaning that they are extremely vulnerable and fragile. This is why it is essential that extra care should be given to anyone who lives within a care home. It also means that, if there is any chance of a fire hazard that could potentially harm someone, it is your duty to ensure that the hazard is minimised as much as possible.

If a fire does break out and you are not prepared, you may find that it is more difficult to move less-mobile residents from the care home to a safe environment. Instead of having a safe spot to meet in, some residents may even get lost or wander away from the group altogether.

Your staff need to be fully trained in order to assist with the organisation of your fire safety evacuation plan, but they also need to be able to identify a potential risk and minimise it. After all, a fire can begin from a very small source but cause a very big problem.

From cooking equipment to electrical cables, just one problem with these devices could lead your care home to start filling with smoke. This is why your staff need to be prepared to identify any potential hazards before a fire even breaks out, as well as the locations of all of your fire prevention equipment, such as fire alarms, sprinkler systems and also any water, CO2 or powder-based fire extinguishers.

Should I only give fire safety training to my care home staff?

Though your first priority for fire safety training is in regards to your staff, you should always keep your elderly inhabitants aware of what safety procedures are being implemented to try and stop any potential fire hazards before they happen.

Instead of lecturing them, you can save your intense training session for your staff – your meeting with your elderly patients should consist of a simple rundown of the procedures that are going to be implemented. If you have an evacuation plan in case of fire or simply want to point out the locations of fire alarms or sprinklers, your care home dwellers can be informed while they are enjoying their afternoon tea. 

If you are concerned that they may forget about any of the information you have provided, then you can provide a simplified brochure or poster that can keep them alerted to any potential fire hazards, what the signs are of a fire and where to evacuate to in case there is a fire. Setting up a meeting point is an essential way to move your care home inhabitants to a safer location that will not be affected by the fire.

Always keep your patients informed and ready for when a fire may happen with a fire drill. By alerting them to a practice procedure, this will allow you and your care home inhabitants to move to the safe spot in a more organised (and, eventually, quicker) manner.

Are there safety regulations needed for care homes?

Ever since the Care Home Regulations Act of 2001, it has been necessary for every vulnerable resident to be safeguarded against any potential threat. The Act also states that they will need special attention and care during more stressful emergencies, such as the emergence of a fire, an accident or even a break-in.

Once a care home is registered with the government, it will need to follow these procedures to remain a verified residence for the vulnerable and elderly:

  • Consult with the fire authorities (i.e. the fire brigade) for the best fire safety procedures
  • Take cautions against any sort of fire risk within or on the outside of the premises
  • Making suitable arrangements for the detection, containment and extinguishing of fires by using recommended fire safety equipment (i.e. a smoke curtains or fire curtains, an extinguisher or sprinklers)
  • Ensure the timely maintenance of all fire safety equipment located within and outside of the building
  • Take the time to fully train the care home staff in regards to how to handle a fire safety hazard and evacuations. You will also need to appoint 5 competent fire wardens to monitor the overall safety of the premises.
  • Organise fire drills to allow for staff and residents to practice evacuation procedures. All drills must be recorded to provide evidence, alongside recorded footage of any equipment tests.

When you have fully been approved for all of these procedures, the government will be satisfied that your care home is up to standard. However, be sure to maintain it; otherwise, the result could be a rapidly spreading fire around the care home.

How can my staff help prevent a fire in our care home?

If you imagine your care home to be like a body, then your staff are the hard-working blood vessels that keep the body constantly moving and full of energy. If your care staff do not fully understand how to do their jobs or take fire prevention strategies, then you may find that your care home is full of very angry inhabitants.

Take your time with your staff’s training – as, whatever you pass onto your staff, they will pass it onto your care home inhabitants. Make sure that your staff are aware of what sort of things could account for a fire hazard. These could include:

  • Electrical hazards – such as an electrical wire left unprotected near a flammable object
  • Rubbish and waste material – Any cigarettes or matches dropped on accumulated waste can cause a quick fire
  • Smoking – Glowing cigarette butts dropped onto flammable sources (such as paper) can cause small fires capable of growing larger
  • Cooking – Open fires and electrical stoves can cause a fire to emerge if food and materials are left on hot services for too long
  • Heating appliances – Portable heaters can be a fantastic addition to a care home. However, if they are left on for too long and are on a flammable surface, then this can cause a potential fire hazard.

From the moment your staff sees a potential fire hazard, they should make a risk assessment of it. What are the sources of ignition, what is the source of fuel and what are the sources of oxygen? These are the three main questions they should be observing. If each of these questions can be answered, then you are facing a real fire risk.

In order to stamp out the fire risk before it happens, your staff need to take action to eliminate one of the sources that were mentioned in the question. For example, if they are looking for a source of ignition in a kitchen, they may consider turning off a cooker or unplugging it. They can also remove the flammable object (i.e. the fuel source) from the heat source to ensure that it does not catch fire.

Moving these objects out of each other’s reach before they catch fire will ensure the safety of your care home, its residents and your staff. These techniques are simple but extremely effective.

Should I consider a fire alarm?

Yes, your care home should always have alarms that are utilised on every floor. Your care home may have people with hearing difficulties; therefore, if the alarm is in only a single area of the building, these people may not be aware of the approaching danger of the fire.

Your care home should have manual call points that are installed next to every alarm. That way, if there is a fire, then your staff will be able to contact each other in order to warn them about the fire. Plan ahead to ensure that, if the alarms do make a noise, it will be loud enough for people to hear it all the way around your building. If it won’t be, then you will need to place alarms that are closer to the residents so that they can be alerted to the fire.

However, do remember that you are housing very vulnerable, and potentially timid, residents. Sleeping areas should only have alarms that are at least 75dBA, but if you find that your alarm noise and loudness start to panic residents, then you may want to turn it down to 45dBA in order make sure that the residents do not panic. Instead, the staff should be more supportive and go to the locations of each of the residents to make sure that they are able to leave the building safely.

Should I implement drills and training procedures?

It is vitally important that all of your drills and fire safety training procedures include both your staff and your residents. Many of your residents will struggle to evacuate on their own, so will require extra support from your staff to make it to safety.

While your staff support your inhabitants, then your appointed fire wardens should be ready to lead the evacuation for everyone inside the building with as little risk as possible.

In order to create as little risk as possible, your fire wardens should ensure that all of your emergency exits remain unblocked and have no obstructions that could potentially stop those exits from opening. These wardens should also ensure that the doors are made of fire-resistant material and can accommodate any mobility-impaired residents, such as those in a wheelchair.

The wardens should further ensure that all potential signs pointing to the emergency exit are fully functional and are easily viewable in either the light or darkness. In addition to this, the wardens should know the location of any fire prevention item, such as a fire extinguisher or alarm, so that they will always be able to utilise these products should they actually encounter any dangerous fires.

With this in mind, it is up to your fire wardens to create a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP for short) that can get any vulnerable resident out of the building in the shortest amount of time. The plan will refer to all emergency exits and potential fire prevention kits, and explain how the staff will fully assist any elderly or vulnerable resident with leaving the care home.

Once the resident has left alongside the staff members, then a safe spot must be picked to ensure that everyone is standing at a safe distance from the fire and smoke. You will need to organise a meeting to pick the best place, though a nearby car park would be an ideal meeting spot. Be sure to keep a list of names handy for such emergencies, as you will need a way of checking that everyone has made it out of the building.

Be sure to try these techniques in drills at least once a year. This will keep your staff fully prepared and ready if a fire breaks out in your care home.

Fire Safety in Restaraunts

There are around 20,000 commercial fires in the UK each year. Restaurants are highly vulnerable to fire. Learn more about fire safety in restaurants and how to prepare for the worst-case scenario of a fire breaking out.

Often, restaurants provide more than just food on a plate. They provide a place for people to come together and socialise or celebrate with loved ones, meet new people, try new cuisines and create lasting memories. It’s all about building the best experience for your customers.

However, this can quickly turn into a disaster. With open flames, cooking equipment and electrical appliances, restaurant kitchens are always at high risk of fire. A fire can devastate your restaurant and cause disruption and loss of revenues, as well as potential injuries. Not only that, but failure to meet Government fire regulations can land you in legal trouble.

Fire safety in restaurants should never be ignored, so it is essential that you have protective measures in place to help you deal with the worst-case scenario. Read on for the most frequently asked questions concerning fire safety in restaurants.

FAQs

What is the law surrounding fire safety in restaurants?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 covers general fire safety for premises used for non-domestic purposes in England and Wales. In Scotland, this is covered in the Fire (Scotland) Act, 2005, supported by the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

What is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order?

The Order requires you to carry out a fire risk assessment to identify possible fire precautions, reduce or eliminate the risk from fire as far as possible and create a plan to deal with any emergency.

Who is responsible for ensuring fire safety in restaurants?

Every business must have a designated “Responsible Person”, usually the manager or owner.

What is the job of the “Responsible Person”?

It is the job of the “Responsible Person” to make sure that action is taken to prevent fires as well as injury or death should a fire break out. It is that person’s responsibility to conduct a fire risk assessment of the premises and review this regularly. They must also communicate fire risks to staff and implement appropriate fire safety measures.

Do I need to check my fire safety regulations?

It is important to regularly check and maintain your fire safety precautions to ensure that they meet UK legislation requirements and are adequate. Failure to do so can lead to prosecution and severe fines.

What are the main causes of fire in restaurants?

The main causes of fires in restaurants and takeaways in the UK are kitchen appliances (25%), cookers (23%) and electrical distribution (17%).

What are the common risks of fires in restaurants?

There are a lot of potential causes of fire in restaurants – such as open flames, cooking oils, hot equipment, blocked escape routes, electric appliances and failure to keep ducting clean.

Why are restaurants a high fire risk?

Over half of all fires attended in the UK involve cooking equipment such as chip/fat pan fires, misuse of electrical appliances and careless handling of fire and hot substances. Therefore, restaurants are a high fire risk because their environments include many potential causes of fire.

What can I do to prevent a fire in my restaurant?

To help prevent a fire in your restaurant or prevent a fire from spreading, make sure you close fire doors properly and avoid obstructing escape routes. Ensure that equipment, like fire alarms, is installed to help you detect and warn others of a fire.

Don’t forget the importance of firefighting equipment – having different types of fire extinguisher means that you can cover all types of fire.

Making your restaurant safe

Most fires are preventable, but it only takes a few seconds for a small flare-up to turn into a big blaze. The time spent improving fire safety could save the lives of employees and customers as well as minimise the amount of disruption to your restaurant.

Becoming aware of fire safety and developing effective protective measures means that the chances of fire are reduced. Should a fire occur, these measures also allow you to adopt the right procedures to control or contain a fire efficiently.

The first step to improving fire safety in your restaurant is to appoint a suitable “Responsible Person” to fulfil the Fire Safety Order requirements and carry out a fire risk assessment. They must be trained, have relevant knowledge and experience and feel confident in their ability to implement such measures.

Have you completed a fire risk assessment?

Required by law, a fire risk assessment identifies any hazards that could result in a fire and people who would be at risk. Based on these findings, you can begin to prepare an adequate fire safety plan to ensure that any person of the premises can stay safe in the event of a fire. It is important this fire safety plan is regularly reviewed to keep it up to date.

When conducting a fire risk assessment, consider aspects such as:

  • Emergency routes and exits
  • Firefighting equipment
  • Fire detection and warning signs
  • Firefighting equipment
  • An emergency fire evacuation plan
  • Staff fire safety training

To read more about fire risk assessments, you can check out the Government’s guide here.

Provide staff with fire safety training

Now that you’ve identified where things can go wrong, it’s important to inform and train your staff in fire prevention. Make sure staff know how to spot potential fire hazards as well as the relevant action to take.

Staff must be given appropriate information and instructions regarding fire safety as well as training on how to mitigate the threat of fire. Educating staff on when and how to contact the emergency services in the event of a fire will make sure the most appropriate action can be taken. Teach employees how to use firefighting equipment such as fire blankets and fire extinguishers and ensure that employees are aware of escape routes as well as how to escort any customers out of the premises.

Avoid fire hazards through enforcing daily tasks. These tasks can include disposing of flammable waste such as cardboard boxes and paper, keeping emergency exits clear, storing food away from heat and cooking equipment, and cleaning walls, work surfaces and equipment thoroughly, as grease can reduce air flow.

Kit out your restaurant kitchen

There are numerous ways that you can safeguard your restaurant’s kitchen by installing fire safety equipment to prevent or stop a fire from occurring. This equipment includes:

Fire alarms

UK legislation requires businesses to have an appropriate fire detection system. Placing heat detectors in your restaurant’s kitchen will reduce the chances of unnecessary false alarms being set off by steam but allow true risks to be detected.

Place smoke alarms elsewhere in your restaurant so that all other occupants in the building can be made aware of any danger. Further improve safety by linking fire alarms so that they sound in unison when a threat is detected.

Test fire alarms weekly to ensure they are in working order and have them served every 6 months.

Fire extinguishers

Businesses also require firefighting equipment in the UK. As restaurants are higher risk businesses, they may need more than just portable fire extinguishers; for example, restaurants may also need sprinklers.

Having different types of fire extinguisher in your restaurant will prepare you for all types of fire. For example, a fire blanket can provide a quick way for you to extinguish a pan fire, whereas a CO2 fire extinguisher would be appropriate for use on electrical equipment.

Equipment must be easily accessed and undergo annual maintenance. Remember, never use water to try to put out an electrical, grease or chemical fire.

Fire safety signs

Different types of fire safety signs should be displayed around your restaurant. A fire action notice explains what to do in case of a fire, a fire extinguisher ID sign explains and locates different types of extinguisher, and fire exit signs provide information on how to evacuate in case of a fire. Such signs are mandatory.

Emergency lights

Should your normal lights fail in the event of a fire, emergency lighting would be required. Lighting of this type ensures that escape routes are still visible, highlights firefighting equipment and reduces panic.

Electrical items

When it comes to electrical items in the kitchen, there are numerous protective measures to consider. Firstly, your electrical system must be able to handle your restaurant’s occupancy load; otherwise, it can cause a fire. Look out for signs for an overloaded circuit such as a beaker tipping as well as less obvious indications like dimmed lights or buzzing switches.

Make sure leads are out of the way from cookers and surfaces when being used by staff. All electrical appliances should be stored away carefully, with their leads away from any cookers, heat sources and water at all times.

When it comes to your restaurant cookers, keep away flammable materials such as tea towels, oils and unnecessary foods that can easily catch fire. Keeping your cookers and surfaces clean also minimises the risk of fire, making sure traces of grease and built-up fat are gone. Remember to clean extraction ducts and repair any gaps or breaks in them. Failure to do so creates a fire hazard as flammable grease, dust and fats can build up as well as prevent ventilation systems from working efficiently.

Appliances should regularly undergo maintenance to check for any electrical faults. Be watchful for any hazards such as frayed cords or wiring on equipment that can easily cause a fire.

In a busy restaurant kitchen, it can be difficult to avoid using a lot of sockets. Overloaded socks are a common cause of fires, so it is important to ensure equipment is switched off when it is not being used and overnight or whenever the premises are not occupied.

Safety when cooking

A restaurant kitchen can often be busy and rushed by nature, but it is important to make this environment as safe as possible. Workstations should be adequately spaced apart to avoid the risk of fire and avoid flames spreading quickly. All foods, oils and any other flammable ingredients should be stored at least 3 feet away from cooking areas.

It is also easy to be distracted while cooking, especially if a lot is going on in your restaurant kitchen. Try to maintain organised processes to avoid distractions and train staff to remain calm under pressure. Pans should never be left unattended while on heat, and handles should be turned so that they do not cause an obstruction.

Protect your kitchen staff by investing in uniforms that are fire-retardant. This will slow or stop the spread of fire and reduce its intensity, increasing safety for employees.

Set hearts on fire this Valentine’s Day – not your restaurant

During February, fire services across the nation roll out advice regarding the dangers Valentine’s Day celebrations can bring. With romance in the air, this guarantees a jam-packed restaurant full of couples, which could be hectic.

Candles rank as one of the top fire hazards around Valentine’s Day. While decorating your restaurant with candles can set a romantic mood, it is easy for them to be misplaced. Decorative items such as curtains, tablecloths, napkins and hanging decorations can easily catch fire.

Battery-operated candles provide a safer alternative, but if you’d prefer the real deal, avoid burning candles close together, as this can cause the flame to flare. The dining area should be well-ventilated, but avoid drafts to prevent uneven burning.

Before customers arrive, make sure candles are placed on tables and other stable surfaces securely before you light them. Make sure you place candles in proper holders and that they can’t be easily knocked over by customers or waiting staff.

Be sure to test out smoke alarms throughout all the premises. Candle flames mean that your restaurant is at higher risk of fire; therefore, if one should occur, it is crucial that everyone is alerted.

Valentine’s Day adds extra fire risk, do not ignore the dangers. Check that all candles are put out – the only sparks that should be flying are romantic ones!

Fire Safety in Nursing Homes

In nursing homes, fire safety and escape planning are particularly important. Nursing homes continue to host vulnerable people, as those who are living longer face more and greater health problems. Read this article to learn about fire safety in nursing homes and what action to take in the event of a fire.

When it comes to the care of vulnerable adults, care goes beyond food and comfort. There must be careful consideration of their safety, along with the safety of the premises to prevent emergencies.

In nursing homes, reducing the risk of and from fire is fundamental in managing your facilities and protecting those who are cared for. The need for suitable, well-planned and practiced fire emergency procedures is essential, as evacuating elderly residents from nursing homes comes with added difficulties. This is because these residents are older, more vulnerable, and highly dependent or reliant on the aid of someone else.

Tragically, fires can cause devastation and many fatalities in nursing homes, making fire safety in nursing homes more important than ever. With better fire safety knowledge and effective planning, these numbers can be reduced.

That’s why Government fire safety regulations for residential homes provide the basis to create and implement efficient fire safety plans to help both staff and residents stay safe.

If you want to learn about the regulations surrounding fire safety in nursing homes, take a look at our frequently asked questions.

FAQs surrounding fire safety in nursing homes

  1. What is the law regarding fire safety in nursing homes?
  2. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 outlines UK law regarding fire safety in nursing homes.
  3. What do the regulations require for fire safety in nursing homes?
  4. Under the legislation, nursing homes must have adequate fire precautions – including escape routes, appropriate warning and detection systems and sufficient firefighting equipment.
  5. Who is responsible for meeting the regulations?
  6. Under legislation, anyone who has control of the premises can be seen as the person responsible for meeting regulation guidelines. You may choose to appoint a “Responsible Person” – however, they must be competent and have relevant training and knowledge of fire safety.
  7. How do I meet the requirements of the law?
  8. It is the job of the “Responsible Person” to complete a fire risk assessment that identifies any potential risks and hazards. The risk assessment should also include those people most at risk, e.g. immobile residents or residents with sight/hearing difficulties.

Any potential risks of fire must be reduced or eliminated wherever possible, and appropriate firefighting equipment must be made available across the premises. An emergency plan must be developed that covers what to do in the event of a fire. Keep a record of this plan and make sure you review it regularly.

  1. What are the main causes of fire in nursing homes?
  2. In residential homes, 45% of fires are a result of cooking and cookers, 15% are due to kitchen appliances and 12% are smoking-related.
  3. How do you provide appropriate care?

Improving your fire safety precautions begins with identifying where things can go wrong and the potential fire hazards on your premises. Plans must be regularly updated so that they continue to be suitable and don’t become outdated. For example, a vulnerable person’s needs may change, or building work to the premises could affect escape routes.

Carrying out practice runs of your emergency plan will also help to prepare staff in the event of an emergency.

Fire safety in nursing homes in more detail

Fire safety in nursing homes comes with added difficulties because of the vulnerable residents concerned. It is your responsibility, as a professional carer, to ensure the safety of the people you support as well as staff members.

By updating your fire safety knowledge and managing fire safety efficiently, you are much more likely to reduce the chance of a fire occurring. On the other hand, if a fire does break out, the chances of it being controlled or contained quickly and effectively increase.

However, knowledge should not stop with just you. Fire safety knowledge and fire emergency plans must be well-communicated to all employees, while it is also necessary to provide relevant training.

Preparing and training staff for a fire emergency

Employees of the nursing home must be made aware of their duty of care required when it comes to fire safety measures. Staff should be trained and confident in preventing or limiting the risk of fire, recognising any fire hazards and responding to fire emergencies.

In the event of a fire, employees must also be capable of safely handling and using firefighting equipment and any evacuation aids. Inform staff how to raise fire alarms as well as how to contact emergency services.

Following induction training, employees should continually be made aware of and provided with adequate fire safety training. Regular training and refresher sessions should continue to keep knowledge up to date, making staff familiar with fire safety procedures. Carrying out practice fire drills will prepare employees on how to handle fire emergencies and give them practical experience when it comes to assisting residents and using equipment.

Training should be relatively frequent in nursing homes due to the vulnerability of residents.

Good housekeeping reduces fire hazards

For all nursing homes, good housekeeping will reduce the chances of a fire occurring. As it is likely that your nursing home generates a high quantity of combustible waste material, your day-to-day activities should include managing this effectively.

Start by keeping waste materials in suitable containers before they are removed from the premises – do not allow this waste to accumulate inside. Secure outdoor bins to prevent them from being moved closer to the building where they could set on fire.

Good housekeeping also includes storing substances such as aerosol sprays, medical gases and medications appropriately so as not to cause an incident. Ideally, lock away any flammable liquids and gases in fire-resistant enclosures. Try reducing the quantity of dangerous substances to the smallest reasonable amount for your nursing home.

When stacking linen, paper, packaging and other materials, make sure you stack them in an orderly fashion and out of the way so that they do not obstruct escape routes.

Be aware of the dangers that large appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers and cookers can have on fire safety. Do not load washing and drying machines in excess of their manufacturer’s recommendations. Carry out regular maintenance to keep these machines in check. For catering facilities, no cooking should be left unattended, while equipment should be safely stored so as not to cause obstruction.

When it comes to kitchen maintenance, thoroughly clean down equipment and surfaces to avoid build-up of grease and fats that can cause a fire. Any extractor ducting and filters should be regularly cleaned and maintained to avoid congestion that could lead to a fire.

Consider using fire-retardant materials where possible – for example, with wheelchairs – and choose suppliers who can evidence that their materials are fire-retardant. Provide adequate space for large equipment and furniture and look out for a potential source of ignition.

Evacuation

In the event of a fire, evacuation is always a likely possibility. In nursing homes, quick and safe evacuation processes must be implemented should a fire occur. Evacuation plans need to be detailed and communicated effectively so that staff are prepared if a dangerous situation arises.

It is likely that the nursing home will include vulnerable residents who require assistance when evacuating or would be otherwise unable to escape. This can be due to a number of factors, such as vision or hearing impairments and reduced or lack of mobility. Therefore, evacuation aids e.g. evacuation chairs, may be necessary in order for staff to assist these at-risk residents.

Staff must be trained in how to use this equipment safely so that residents can be securely evacuated. Staff should also be informed of appropriate evacuation methods – for example, horizontal evacuation processes – that move vulnerable residents from room to room ahead of the fire.

Fire detection and warning

When it comes to fire safety in nursing homes, fire detection and warning systems are vital. Fire alarms should be installed throughout the premises, and care homes are required to fit L1 fire alarm systems. Residents’ dwellings must also be fitted with an alarm which allows the residents to alert a nurse in the case of emergency.

Fire doors provide nursing homes with the best chances of preventing the spread of fire and allowing for the safe evacuation of vulnerable patients. Fire doors should be closed properly at all times and be clear of any obstruction to allow for escape.

Situating fire extinguishers appropriately throughout the nursing home allows for them to be accessed when needed. Different types of fire extinguisher cover different types of fire, so you may want to consider this depending on your nursing home.

Sprinkler systems are highly recommended systems for preventing fires from spreading. Not only do these systems detect fires, they also suppress them and raise fire alarms. Installing sprinkler systems to the nursing home can stop the devastation of fire and help in your fire safety emergency planning.

All fire alarms, fire doors, fire extinguishers and all other mandatory and optional firefighting equipment must be regularly tested.

Common fires risks in nursing homes

As you know, fires can start from a whole range of risks and hazards, but some are more common than others. Smoking and incorrectly disposing of smoking materials, placing electrical items near flammable materials and leaving fire doors open are all common fire risks in nursing homes.

Smoking on-site by staff should be discouraged; instead, provide a suitable smoking area away from the building and provide appropriate disposal methods. If smoking is permitted for residents, have strict controls in place so that they can only smoke with supervision.

Regularly test and check electrical appliances to look for faults that could lead to fire. Stick to the “one plug, one socket” rule – you don’t want to overload sockets. If the use of extension leads is necessary, then keep leads out of the way to avoid damage and exposure.

Remember to switch off appliances after they have been used and store them away as soon as possible. Never unnecessarily leave sockets on overnight.

Impact of staffing issues

Another common fire risk in nursing homes arises from staffing issues. During night shifts, fire safety can be reduced due to lower staffing levels. This situation may compromise your fire emergency plans, so alternatives must be put into place.

Be prepared for winter months

For some of us, tackling winter is as easy as throwing on extra layers and retrieving our coats from the back of the wardrobe. However, with temperatures plummeting and gloomy skies, winter can expose elderly people to dangerous risks.

Freezing temperatures can often lead to a number of health issues with elderly people – such as colds, sore throats and, in extreme cases, hypothermia. When it comes to fire safety, this could make some residents “at risk” – or put them at even higher risk than before. Therefore, personal fire safety evaluations must be regularly undertaken to account for vulnerable residents.

Slippery pavements and ice can lead to more falls from older people in the winter months. Each year, 250,000 people aged over 65 are treated in hospital as a result of a fall. This can lead to more residents in the nursing home becoming immobile and, therefore, vulnerable to fire.

Should more residents become vulnerable during the winter months, this can lead to inadequate staffing levels for carrying out fire safety plans. If residents of an increasing number are classed as vulnerable, there might not be enough staff to support those most at risk.

Take preventative measures when it comes to nursing home premises. Remove any trip hazards from paths and surfaces. Use grit or salt to combat slippery surfaces and, if necessary, accompany residents when they are walking outside. Keep your residents and fire safety intact this season.

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