Fire prevention is an important topic in any industry, but in the healthcare industry, it’s essential. Healthcare facilities and hospitals provide home and respite to patients who may not be medically able to evacuate on their own, which means your healthcare facility’s fire prevention methods are especially important.
Hospital and healthcare facility managers must take extra care to develop the plans and procedures that keep patients and personnel safe. If you’re working to update your fire prevention and protection procedures, this article will take a look at 5 key areas that require particular attention. But first, let’s start with the one thing all healthcare facility managers know is important — documentation:
Any Healthcare Fire Prevention Training, Inspection, or Procedure Change Should Always Be Mentioned in Regulatory Compliance Documentation
Whether you’re updating your healthcare facility’s evacuation plan, completing a hospital fire drill, or scheduling regular inspection of your hospital’s kitchen fire suppression system, updating regulatory compliance documentation is always necessary.
Documentation is essential to the safe, compliant operation of your hospital or healthcare facility, and it’s also important for the safety of the entire facility. When your documentation is updated regularly, you know exactly where to look in the event of a question or even an emergency.
As you read through these fire prevention methods for healthcare facilities, remember that in any of these five areas, any update or change you make to procedure, or any new inspection or service you schedule should always be documented. With that in mind, we can move on to our top five fire prevention tips for healthcare facilities:
5 Ways to Prevent Fires in Healthcare Facilities
Let’s take a closer look at five key ways you can work to prevent fires in your healthcare facility.
01. Monitor Kitchens and Kitchen Fire Suppression Systems Closely
In any healthcare facility or hospital, cooking equipment is the number one cause of fire. According to 2011-2015 averages from the NFPA, cooking equipment was responsible for 66% of fires in healthcare facilities. While this is a shocking percentage, it’s good to know that most of these fires did not spread beyond the cooking equipment or kitchen. Many were caused by unattended equipment, and luckily, when your healthcare facility’s kitchen has a functioning, well-maintained fire suppression system, most of these fire hazards are quickly contained.
That’s why it’s so important to monitor kitchens in healthcare facilities, and ensure that kitchen fire suppression systems are regularly inspected and serviced. For more information, check out Vanguard’s Basic Guide to Restaurant Fire Suppression Systems, which outlines key elements of your healthcare facility’s kitchen fire suppression system, as well as how often yours should be maintained or inspected.
02. Don’t Let Smoking and Oxygen Mix
While there are a number of flammable chemicals in any hospital or healthcare facility, oxygen is one to pay special attention to. Patients who smoke and are on oxygen put themselves and the facility at risk should they attempt to smoke near their oxygen supply.
Clearly establish rules for patients on oxygen, and educate every patient on the dangers of smoking around oxygen tanks. If your healthcare facility has designated smoking areas — many long-term care facilities do, for example — provide large, no-tip ash trays that can minimize accidents, and ensure that oxygen is not allowed in smoking areas.
03. Maintain a Regular Fire Suppression System Inspection and Service Schedule
Your healthcare facility is protected by a fire suppression system. Most facilities have some combination of sprinkler systems, special hazard fire protection, and fire extinguishers located throughout the facility.
Every element of your healthcare facility’s fire suppression system should be inspected and serviced according to code requirements. This includes everything from monthly fire alarm checks to three-year sprinkler system inspections. That can be a lot to keep track of, so signing up for regular inspection and service from your fire protection system supplier is a great way to make sure your healthcare system never misses a service appointment. You can also check out the code requirement sheet below for a simple guide on what needs inspection and when.
And remember that any time your fire suppression system is being serviced, your healthcare facility should conduct a fire watch to ensure all patients, residents, and personnel are safe. Always document the results of any fire watch, regardless of whether there was an incident or not.
04. Establish and Practice Healthcare Facility Evacuation Plans and Fire Drills
Another important component of your healthcare facility’s fire safety prevention training is your response or evacuation plan, and fire drill training. Both of these components are necessary to ensuring your personnel can respond appropriately in the event of a fire, but they’re also effective fire prevention methods that make it easier for personnel to understand what fire hazards and fire risks look like. When everyone recognizes fire hazards, your healthcare facility can develop prevention and safety methods as a team that help prevent fires well before they start.
Any healthcare facility should start with a risk assessment. This will help you understand what risks are present in your facility, and how you plan to address them. From there, you can develop an emergency response plan, and a hospital or healthcare facility fire drill that best addresses those potential risks.
Once your fire evacuation plan and fire drill procedures are established, it’s important to practice them. This hospital fire drill matrix can help you ensure that your healthcare facility is practicing fire drills according to code requirements, and providing proper documentation of each drill.
05. Complete Regular Fire Extinguisher Training
While the best way to prevent fires in healthcare facilities is with regular training and system maintenance, it’s also important that in the event that there is a fire hazard, personnel know how to respond.
Fire extinguisher training is proven to improve how fast and how effectively your healthcare facility responds to a hazard. When personnel know how to use a fire extinguisher, they are better able to respond to the hazard, use the appropriate techniques, and safely contain fire hazards before they can spread to the rest of your healthcare facility. On-site fire extinguisher training programs make it easy for your personnel to get the specific training they need to respond appropriately in the event of a fire.
Preventing fires in healthcare facilities is of the utmost importance. With careful planning, comprehensive training, and regular fire suppression system maintenance, your healthcare facility will be doing everything possible to minimize the threat of fire in your buildings. If you have questions about any of these prevention methods or aren’t sure if your facility is up-to-date with regular fire suppression system inspection and maintenance, contact Vanguard Fire & Security Systems today. We’re here to help.