Residential Care Home Owners Fined £380k

As regular reader of the DB Fire Safety blog, you will be aware of the necessity to comply with the Fire Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005…..particularly if you are an owner of a residential care home.

Only recently, the owner of a residential care home in Washington, Tyne & Wear was sentenced following five breaches of Residential Care Homefire safety regulations.

The fire destroyed a bedroom and also caused damage to a corridor and smoke damage to other bedrooms and the laundry room.

It was reported that the fire started in a bedoom, but because the fire door had been wedged open, this resulted in the smoke and heat spreading to the communal corridor.  Another bedroom door had also been wedged open and the smoke and heat travelled into this bedroom too.

Because fires can spread extremely quickly (within minutes), the staff had trouble in sourcing where the fire had started.  An elderly lady, where the fire started, became trapped in her room.  Firefighters were, however, able to enter the building wearing breathing apparatus to rescue her safely through a first floor window.

Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service uncovered the following breaches of the Fire Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, as follows:

  • Two fire doors had been wedged open, when they should always be kept closed.
  • Almost half of the fire extinguishers had been condemned by the company’s appointed contractor.
  • The company failed to comply and carry out a number of requirements identifed in a fire risk assessment.  These requirements included installing electronic devices which would allow fire doors to be wedged open but, in the event of a fire, enabling them to close quickly in an emergency.

Fire can kill, and this particular residential care home owner was fortunate that no-one was seriously injured or killed. The £380k penalty is signficant but it sends out an important message in respect of the value of carrying out fire risk assessments and to comply with Fire Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

Fire Door Safety Week – 14th to 20th September 2015

Fire Door Safety Week is the brainchild of the British Woodworking Federation, BWD-CERTIFIRE Scheme and the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS)

Fire Door Safety Week has been organised to:

  • Raise awareness of the critical role of a fire door making particular reference to how the door has been installed and if the door requires maintenance.
  • To draw attention to owners of builders, not forgetting users, to check the condition of fire doors and report if they are found to be in an unsatisfactory condition and not fit for purpose.
  • To offer advice to every property owner and user in respect of the correct fire door specification, how they should be installed correctly, regular inspection and their maintenance.

Fire doors offer passive fire protection.  Providing passive fire protection into the structure of  a building can save Fire Doorspeople’s lives and limit the fire damage that can occur in the event of a fire which can, in effect, save money.

It’s crucial that fire doors are fitting correctly because they will:

  • Protect escape routes
  • Protect the building’s structure
  • Limit the spread of the fire and smoke by containing both these fire hazards in just one room.

Fire Safety Responsibilities

As a business owner, if you manage, own or employ people it’s your responsibility to manage your own fire safety and to understand the fire safety legislation.  The law states that it’s also your responsibility to ensure that your employees and visitors either in, or within the vicinity of, your premises are protected.  It’s also important to note that  refurbishments made to your premises are, again, your responsibility to ensure that these meet with current Building Regulations.  It’s also your responsibility to carry out regular fire risk assessments.

The writer of this blog has over 21 years experience in the fire safety industry and fully understands how your fire safety responsibilities can impact on the running of your business or organisation. If you are finding it difficult to navigate your way through the minefield that is fire safety legislation, then please feel free to contact me on 0800 772 0559 for advice in respect of fire doors.