Campaign for fire sprinkler sysyems extended to care homes in wake of blaze in Quebec
Caring Times Extra, January 2014
Independent fire safety experts have called for all care homes in the UK to install sprinkler fire extinguishing systems in the wake of the Canadian blaze tragedy. At least five elderly Canadians were killed after a fire destroyed an old people’s home in Quebec in January.
Safety Management (UK) (SMUK), which has been campaigning for laws to be introduced to make sprinkler systems compulsory in every high rise flat in the country, has now extended the campaign to care homes and says that those which don’t have sprinkler systems already installed should now look at retro-fitting them as a matter of urgency.
It is also urging care managers to immediately review their fire evacuation procedures in the wake of the fatal fire in Canada. SMUK says that the danger is increased at night-time – when staffing levels are lower. And it warns that a similar tragedy could happen in the UK. Former firefighter and managing director of SMUK, Brian Gregory, said care homes should look at ensuring that every resident has their own personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP).
“The problem is that getting elderly and infirm people to a place of safety or even out of a building takes time and there has to be sufficient staff there to help that process happen quickly before any fire takes hold,” said Mr Gregory.
“Staffing levels are obviously lower during the night-time and this is where potential risks are increased. PEEPs are individual to each resident and ensure everyone working in a home knows the level of mobility of individual people and what is needed to get them to a place of safety.
“However, the biggest issue is that of sprinkler systems. The cost of retro-fitting is now significantly less than it was in the past. We recently recommended the retro-fitting of sprinklers in a care home rather than upgrading fire doors, as this was the more cost effective option for the care home.
“We would urge every care home in the country to assess their fire prevention procedures and to look towards installing sprinklers.”