Fire safety procedures for nursing homes

Written by andrea drinkard
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Fire safety procedures for nursing homes
Clearly displayed and illuminated fire exits are a must in nursing homes. (Gudella/iStock/Getty Images)

The procedures in place for fire safety in a nursing home are crucial for the well-being of patients, staff, visitors and family. Because many nursing home residents are unable to care for themselves in an emergency, fire safety procedures must be extremely detailed and each member of the nursing home personnel must know his role. Fire safety procedures should be clearly written and posted, and training should be provided regularly.

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Because the improper disposal of a cigarette or cigar can inadvertently start a fire, smoking should be allowed only in designated areas. To be cautious, allow smoking outdoors only. Smoking within living areas should be strictly prohibited. Smoking areas should be visibly marked as smoking grounds and ashtrays should be provided. Cleaners should empty the ashtrays into metal bins regularly and extinguish any smouldering butts with water.


Kitchen appliances should be cleaned regularly. Grease and dust build-up in cookers, fume-extraction hoods and ducts can cause fires that may be hard to contain. All equipment in the kitchen of the nursing home should be checked frequently and repaired or replaced as necessary. Fire extinguishers and blankets should be kept in the kitchen and kitchen staff must be trained on using the equipment if a fire starts. Evaluate the condition of the equipment often to ensure it does not fail should an emergency arise.

Alarms and Smoke Detectors

Fire alarms and smoke detector systems are necessary in nursing homes. Monitoring systems that connect directly to emergency centres or fire stations allow the emergency services to respond to a fire more rapidly.

Staff training

Nursing home personnel should be trained on individual roles during a fire before an emergency happens. Because remaining calm is of the utmost importance, these procedures should be practiced regularly. Along with fire prevention training, well rehearsed emergency and evacuation procedures are necessary. All staff, including temporary and part-time staff, should know where fire alarms and first aid kits are located, as well as the layout of the building. Appoint a staff nurse or on each shift whose role it is to call 999 and notify the staff in case of fire. A second nurse or staff member in each area should be appointed to assign team members with their roles during an emergency. This person will also be in charge of accounting for each staff member and patient when the nursing home is evacuated. All staff should report to the nurse in charge to learn which patients they should evacuate.

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