Aged Care and Nursing Home Fire Protection and Safety

Looking after people and property for aged care and nursing home managers

Aged care fire protection and safety

Why is aged care fire protection so important?

Aged care fire protection and fire safety is paramount in facilities such as nursing homes and retirement villages. Residents are vulnerable due to the impact of age and infirmity. This means that they may lack mobility and are unable to escape by themselves when there is an emergency in the residential care facility.

They also may lack awareness of their surroundings. This is due to failing mental acuity and senses such as sight, hearing and smell. All these help fully able individuals to detect an emergency fire situation. Healthier people may see flame or smoke, hear an alarm or smell smoke. However, when you struggle to see or hear, you may not even be aware of danger.

In 2011, the issue of aged care fire protection came home. In a tragedy at a nursing home in Quakers Hill, a suburb of Western Sydney. 11 aged residents died in this deliberate fire. The facility had no fire suppression sprinkler system. This spurred laws reforming fire safety for Aged Care Facilities. The NSW Government made automatic fire sprinkler systems mandatory in all residential aged care facilities. These laws took effect on 1 January 2013.

Following that legislation, the following are now mandatory:

  • sprinkler systems,
  • smoke alarms,
  • emergency exit signs

These must be properly operating. Other safety measures include:

  • clear pathways to exits,
  • proper training of staff,
  • and good maintenance of fire protection features

NSW Safety Legislation For Aged Care Fire Protection

Aged care facilities felt the impact of the new NSW Government Sprinkler Legislation. Nursing homes had to replace old or retrofit new sprinkler systems. An ongoing requirement is the proper functioning of those sprinkler systems.

There are also stricter requirements for automatic smoke detection and alarm systems that connect to NSW Fire & Rescue.

Australian Standard AS3745 requires that there be a properly written emergency response procedure manual in place at each facility. These manuals include:

for all facility areas. Some local authorities require nursing home facilities to give a copy of an emergency response manuals to the local NSW Fire & Rescue station.

All aged care homes in NSW in the retrofit program have now completed this work and have sprinkler protection.

These and other regulations ensure  aged care fire protection.

Training nursing home staff in fire safety procedures

Good intentions and the best equipment is not all that an aged care fire protection plan needs to provide. It must also ensure that staff get training in evacuation procedures so that panic does not happen in an emergency situation.

When a smoke alarm sounds, every staff member should know exactly what to do. The first thing to do is to call 000 if necessary to ensure that the professional fire fighters are on the way.

Staff will have to quickly decide whether to evacuate the patients. To do this they must first locate the source of the smoke. Based on the location and scale of the fire, they then decide whether to fight and try to contain the fire, or to evacuate the residents.

Staff fire safety training should happen upon hiring and then at regular intervals after that. Each staff member should have access to the facility emergency response manual. They then need to familiarize themselves with it.

Fire Safety Training should cover these points. Every staff member needs to be able to

  • properly use fire blankets and fire extinguishers.
  • unfurl a fire hose reel and aim the nozzle at the fire correctly.
  • meet the Building Fire Safety Regulation requirements.

Some staff need appointment as fire safety officers and get extra training. In addition, the fire wardens

  • must be able to identify the alarm zones from the fire panel.
  • must have a fire evacuation pack that they can quickly access. This includes a torch, whistle, horn, first aid kit, instructions, and an up-to-date list of employees and residents.
  • Regular fire emergency and evacuation exercises must happen regularly involving all staff.

You must establish an Emergency Control Organization (ECO). ECO Members get training and staff learn who they are.

The ECO must meet at least every six months.

In addition to the training and fire safety equipment, keep residents’ rooms safe from fire hazards such as:

  • small electrical appliances,
  • furniture that could act as an obstacle,
  • and inflammables like paper goods.

Test all items in patient’s rooms for compliance with appropriate fire safety ratings.

Meeting all these safety standards and training requirements can ensure a safe facility. For more information on aged care fire protection, contact us today.

Who completes the aged care fire safety certificates and statements?

The Fire Safety Certificates and Annual Fire Safety Statements can only have sign-off by the owner or their agent and not by the Accredited Practitioner Fire Safety technician. This places an immense legal obligation on the signer.

When is a nursing home Annual Fire Safety Statement due?

Aged care fire protection starts with any new construction or significantly altered building needing the issuance of a Fire Safety Certificate. This lists all fire safety measures for the property. This requires the input of a registered fire safety professional (formerly known as competent fire safety practitioners), and then goes to your local council for approval. This document was formerly known as a Form 6 or Form 15 Certificate.

Additionally, a Fire Safety Schedule (FSS), which lists all the measures, such as fire protection systems and equipment, is required for the property in question and the level or standard needed for each of those. It will detail the Building codes, Australian Standards, or other requirements that the fire safety measure require compliance with.

Your AFSS will require that an accredited person assesses, tests and services every item on your FSS.

A council inspection can result in an FSS. If they have the data on file, then a records request means that they can issue an FSS. Accredited certifiers including certified fire protection professionals can also issue Fire Safety Schedules.

You must get a Nursing Home or Aged Care facility Annual Fire Safety Statement on the anniversary from the date on which you obtained and submitted the initial Fire Safety Certificate to council. This initial certificate comes in response to a:

  • Building Approval,
  • Construction Certificate,
  • Complying Development Certificate,
  • fire safety order
  • or Development Consent.

If you do not submit a Fire Safety Statement to Council on an annual basis and it has not been submitted to Council within the past 12 months, it is now overdue. You must now submit it to Council as soon as possible to avoid a fine and/or legal action.

You must also display the statement in a place on the property which is accessible to council or Fire and Rescue NSW officers.

Following the assessment and endorsement a copy of the Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) or Fire Safety Certificate has to go to Council and NSW Fire & Rescue. 

We can also do partial AFSS for those aged care properties that have outstanding issues. For example, that means when there are different fire items that needs sign off and of say 5 items, 4 are compliant and 1 is not, then we can sign off the 4. So, if 

  • Fire Hose Reels (FHR)
  • exits
  • sprinklers
  • detection
  • fire doors

All except fire doors are up to standard, then we sign off on compliant items but not the doors. This partial AFSS may buy you time to resolve the non compliant issue.

How do we help aged-care Fire Protection compliance?

What fire safety measures does a nursing home need?

Fire safety measures are systems, equipment and protocols  that protect people and property when an uncontrolled fire occurs. Redmen supplies, installs and maintains these measures, which include:

In the initial stages of any aged care development, we also advise on passive fire construction or Passive fire protection (PFP) or fire stopping. This depends on compartmentation of fire and preventing collapse through structural fire resistance. Some include fire-resistant construction materials in this category.

Every aged care property requires its own unique blend of fire safety measures. We provide a customized design that fits your property’s needs.

Our low cost fire protection maintenance package will then take care of most of your fire safety needs in the future.

Why should aged care and nursing home  managers choose us?

We have insight into the expectations of aged care and nursing home  managers. To this end, we developed and will deliver an aged care specific package that is more attractive than our competitors.

We have over many years specialized in the aged care industry. Our staff speak to aged care and nursing homes everyday. We understand the needs of of aged care and nursing home managers.

We understand the aged care industry and your policies and ways of doing business. By doing so, we add value to that essential fire protection.

We understand the dynamics of dealing with your residents and their families, your expectations and desires. Your need to grapple with the Aged Care Legislation, while dealing with the wants and needs of the resident base. You want to minimize risks for all, while not exceeding price expectations.

That is why we have a comprehensive AGED CARE  offer that we hope will motivate you and match your needs. Contact us today to find out more.

Aged Care
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Inspection of fire extinguisher

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