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Don't be a Dalek - Poor Fire Safety in Care Homes - be prepared...or risk Prosecution!

Recent Newspaper Headlines:

More than half of care homes fail fire safety inspection:

Care home fire safety 'horrifying' in London;

Cheshunt care home fire-Two dead and 33 rescued:

London Fire Brigade warns of risk to elderly as 101 out of 177 premises are told to address safety concerns.

The majority of care homes inspected in a major fire safety audit failed basic checks, it has emerged, triggering concerns that the lives of elderly people are being put at risk.

Of the 177 homes inspected by the London Fire Brigade (LFB), 101 – 57% – were issued with a formal notification instructing them to address safety concerns.

The brigade said it believed the findings would be repeated if similar inspections were carried out across the country.

Dan Daly, LFB assistant commissioner, said: “Care home owners need to review their fire risk assessments urgently. If you were placing your loved one into the care of others, you would expect them to be safe but, for too many, the very roof they are under could put them at risk.”

The brigade launched the review after a series of fires at old people’s homes. In February 2018 a resident in his 80s died and another was left in a critical condition after a fire at the Woodlands care home in Stevenage. In 2017 two people died in a Cheshunt care home after a fire travelled through the roof, quickly engulfing the building.

Just under half – 45% – of the homes inspected were found to have an unsuitable or insufficiently comprehensive fire risk assessment, a significant concern for the LFB.

To make a proper fire risk assessment you need to properly understand how fire can travel and develop, otherwise you’re just guessing your safety plan,” Daly said.

“You wouldn’t let an underqualified surgeon operate on you, so why allow someone without the proper experience to undertake your fire risk assessment?”

One in seven homes, or 14%, were found to have poor emergency planning or a potential lack of staff to implement the plan. A similar proportion of homes had problems with their protected escape corridors, while there were failures relating to fire doors at 29% of the homes inspected. One in 10 provided inadequate training for staff.

The LFB said it feared that fire safety training for care home staff was becoming generic.

Against the backdrop of the Grenfell tragedy, the findings make sobering reading, and the brigade has written to the care homes it inspected, alerting them of the need to conduct adequate risk assessments.

“It is concerning that operators of care homes do not in all cases understand the need for their fire risk assessment to be carried out by an assessor that is competent and experienced in these fire safety complexities,” the LFB said in its letter, seen by the Observer.

Debbie Ivanova, a deputy chief inspector at the Care Quality Commission, which monitors care providers, said it was the duty of the businesses running the homes to ensure that they had the right fire protection measures in place.

“We know that good care home providers invest in proper and regular fire training for their staff, and ensure that emergency plans are kept up to date,” she said. “But as the LFB’s findings make clear, good fire safety isn’t the norm everywhere.” Those that don't or refuse to provide fire safety in care homes will be issued with an Enforcement Notice or Prosecution Notice and could face large fines or Imprisonment.

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