London Fire Brigade inspectors have found serious fire safety failures in care homes across London in a series of one-off in-depth inspections. The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly said: “Over half the care homes we inspected had to make improvements to their fire safety arrangements despite them housing some of London’s most vulnerable residents”.
Of the 177 care homes visited, the following serious fire safety breaches were identified:
- One in three premises had inadequate or poorly maintained fire doors
- Widespread confusion about fire evacuation strategies was highlighted
- Fire risk assessments were being carried out by people without the proper skills and experience
- Roofs were omitted from fire risk assessments (roof voids often increase the spread and severity of a fire).
So high was the level of concern, that London Fire Brigade has written to every care home in the capital demanding they urgently review their fire risk assessments, emergency plans and staff training.
Commissioner Daly said “Care home owners need to urgently review their fire risk assessments and ensure their staff know how to safely evacuate their residents, especially those who are immobile”.
Debbie Ivanova, the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) Deputy Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care for the London Region, said: “It’s the responsibility of those in charge of running care homes to ensure the right fire protection measures are in place in order to keep people safe. I encourage all care home providers to make full use of these findings so they can make continual improvements that will help keep everyone safe.”
In 2017, two people died in a Cheshunt care home after a fire travelled through voids in the roof which allowed it to quickly engulf the entire building. Crews from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue and London Fire Brigade found residents in many rooms, many too frail too move themselves to safety.
Assistant Commissioner Daly continued: “To make a proper fire risk assessment, you need to properly understand how fire can travel and develop… we sincerely urge care homes to take note of the findings in this report and learn lessons for future inspections.”
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