Fires in Care Homes - Don’t take the risk warns Vulcan

22nd May 2015

There have been many devastating events that have occurred in care homes where helpless people have lost their lives due to a tragic fire that could have been avoided if a fire safety plan was put in place.  

Preventing fires in care homes with fire safety training
For example, the deaths of 14 elderly residents in the Rosepark Care Home blaze could have been prevented if a "suitable" fire safety plan was in place, an inquiry has concluded. To make sure that your care home maintains the legal standard requirements of safety needed to prevent fires from occurring, it is important to appoint a ‘responsible person’ and ensure they have the fire safety training needed. 

The inquiry into the fire that killed the 14 elderly residents at Rosepark Care Home in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, incurred the following failings:

  • “Some or all” of the deaths could have been prevented if the home had a “suitable and sufficient” fire-safety plan
  • “Inadequate arrangements” were made for calling the fire brigade. The care home’s procedures dictated that a member of staff find the source of the blaze before dialling 999. Staff waited nine minutes before contacting the fire service
  • A “critical failing” to identify high-risk residents or consider contingency plans in the “worst-case scenario” of a fire beginning at night
  • “Limited attention” paid to evacuation procedure (particularly egregious given the mobility issues of residents). Too many people were housed in one corridor to evacuate effectively. The electrical distribution board sat alongside flammable materials in a cupboard that opened to a “critical escape route“
  • Staff not given adequate fire-safety training
  • A lack of fire dampeners
  • The risk assessment was “obtained in good faith” but contained a “serious error”

Source:  Ifsec Global 

In other incidents, after a fire broke out at the Anchor Trust Care Home, Rose Court Bermondsey, South London they were fined £120,000 with costs of £50,622. Morven Healthcare Croydon encountered fire safety breaches and were fined £45,000 with £23,488 costs in 2013.

There was also a fire at Hafod y Green Specialist care home in December 2013, where the staff were safely evacuated and 32 vulnerable adults without injury.

These points are crucial actions that either should have been taken to avoid a fire breaking out in the first place, or to make the evacuation process when the fire broke out more effective. 

Making sure that fire alarms and fire doors are securely fitted is just the start, it’s the ongoing management and essential training that needs addressing, that’s where Vulcan Fire Training comes in! 

Here are some stats:

  • The risk of dying in a fire for elderly people (65 and over) is over twice as high as the average for all ages. 
  • In 2014 there were ten fires a week in London's care homes.
  • A third of fatalities in accidental fires in the Capital last year were people receiving care services (2014).
  • 2012/13 saw 540 fires in care homes and sheltered accommodation.
  • Fire and Rescue Authorities in Britain attended 192,600 fires in 2012-13.
  • NHS first year treatment costs due to poor housing caused by fires in housing was £25m (2011 figures)
  • Fire kills. In 2004 (England and Wales) fire and rescue services attended over 33,400 fires in non-domestic buildings. These fires killed 38 people and injured over 1,300. 
  • Fire costs money. The costs of a serious fire can be high and afterwards many businesses do not reopen. In 2004, the costs as a consequence of fire, including property damage, human casualties and lost business, were estimated at £2.5 billion.

Source: and 

Here are the number of fires that have occurred in care homes in London from 2008 to 2015, and it continues to rise. 
Fires in care homes and sheltered accommodation
Source:  LondonFire.Gov 

By undertaking the appropriate training you can help to reduce the numbers of deaths and injuries from fire, particularly in buildings occupied by people with reduced mobility, and also reduce the risks to firefighters and the costs to the care homes. 

Fires in care homes can be fatal and it is not worth the risk, Vulcan Fire Training offers Fire Warden Training and 3 Day Fire Risk Assessor courses specifically targeted at those working in care homes. The 3 Day Fire Risk Assessor course includes: 

    • Fire safety risk assessments 
    • Identifying hazards 
    • People at risk 
    • Removal or reduction of hazards 
    • Compiling a fire emergency plan 
    • Means of escape 
    • Travel distances
    • Staircase designs 
    • Emergency lighting much more!

More information on this in-house course can be found here. For information on the Fire Warden - Care Homes course click here