scotgovThe Scottish Government has made a number of amendments to its fire safety guidance issued to care home operators, following a public consultation on the content.

It is hoped the revisions made to the document will improve the understanding of the guidance by those who have a responsibility for ensuring the fire safety of care homes.

The guidance is applicable to general fire safety in existing premises in which a care home service is provided – it is not a design guide for new build. It provides an overview of Fire Safety Law in respect to non-domestic premises and persons with fire safety responsibilities referred to as 'duty-holders'.

The revised content covers a number of topics, including:
• Fire safety risk assessment
• Protecting care home residents and staffing including evacuation strategies
• Managing fire safety
• Reducing the likelihood of fire
• Restricting the spread of fire and smoke
• Means of escape
• Fire detection and warning
• Means for fighting fire
• Fire and rescue service facilities.

Fires in care homes, due to the challenges facing residents and their size have been emphasised in the past, including the fire at Rosepark Care Home in 2004, when a short, rapidly developing fire originated in a cupboard on a bedroom corridor. Inhalation of smoke and toxic gases claimed the lives of 14 residents. This demonstrates the serious risk that fire poses to the occupants of care homes, the tragic consequences which may occur, and the importance of fire safety management.

Further reading: Home safety project blog - a safer home

This guide, prepared by the Scottish government, is one in a series of guidance documents offering fire safety advice for different types of premises, and supersedes the February 2008 version of Practical Fire Safety Guidance for Care Homes. There are a substantial number of editorial changes in the revision aimed at improving duty-holders’ understanding of the guidance – these changes take account of the results of a public consultation on the content of the guidance.

A number of different care home settings are covered in the guidance, including:

• Older people
• Children and young people
• People with learning disabilities
• People with drug and alcohol problems
• People with mental health problems
• People with physical and sensory impairment.

Broadly, care homes comprising a ground floor, ground and first floor or ground, first and second floor, will fall within the scope of this guide. However, for very small premises registered as care homes, which may have only one or two residents, the new guidance may not be applicable. New build care homes would also be covered by the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004, so the revised guidance does not apply to them. 

Our upcoming Recover Scotland event (29 May 2014) will examine the challenges facing organisations from care homes to the emergency services in delivery the Scottish government's Road to Recovery strategy - click here for more information and to book your place.