Fire safety is an essential component in healthcare facility management. From 2011-2015, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) reported an annual average of U.S. fire departments responding to 5,750 structure fires in healthcare facilities. These fires resulted in two civilian deaths, 157 civilian injuries, and $50.4 billion in property damage. Medical facility managers must be vigilant in keeping patients safe. Also, repairing structure damage is expensive. Here are some fundamental strategies how for achieving fire safety in healthcare facilities.
Monitor Kitchens in Healthcare Facilities
When you think of “kitchens,” residential kitchens and restaurants might come to mind. However, healthcare facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes also house kitchens. Fortunately, kitchen fires in healthcare facilities often stay contained to the appliance where the fire began. A few fundamental tips include:
- Avoid grease fires by emptying an appliance’s grease traps regularly
- Storing any flammable oil or other items away from cooking equipment
- Cleaning grill and grill ducts to avoid any oil falling into cracks and gaps
- Ensuring that electrical cords don’t have frays or tears
- Keeping all portable fire extinguishers close by, ensuring that your staff knows how to use them
Check Outlets and Wires Routinely
Electrical malfunctions, unlike cooking fires, don’t stay contained. Facility managers should never overlook electrical setups. If possible, refrain from using extension cords. Moving the device or installing a new outlet is an alternative to relying on extension cords.
However, any cord that you use needs to be in excellent condition. The cords also need to stay away from flammable materials. Another safety tip is that you shouldn’t run a cord through a doorway, window, or wall and refrain from putting it underneath a carpet or rug. It would be best if you asked these questions about the cords you use:
- Are the cords cracked or split?
- Are the plugs in bad shape?
- Are the plugs or cords overloaded?
- Are cords in an area where someone could step on them?
Additionally, multi-plug adaptors that enable a person to plug several appliances into one outlet run the risk of an overload. Certified electricians should be the only ones setting up, testing, and maintaining your facility’s electrical system.
Assign a Safety Officer and Train Them Often
You can avoid many citations by your building and fire safety systems being up to code. However, you can also prevent them by having a well-trained staff. Your medical facility personnel should be familiar with fire safety procedures from prevention to excavation and even in a fire emergency response.
It’s also best to combine automatic sprinklers with portable extinguishers that, once again, your staff knows how to use. It’s also helpful for extinguishers to have a monthly inspection. Routine procedures to inspect fire extinguishers visually can include:
- Seeing if all fire extinguishers are in the correct location
- Analyzing if the extinguishers are accessible and if anything is obstructing them
- Looking for missing or broken safety seals
- Searching for external fire extinguisher damage
- Seeing if any of the nozzles are rusting, leaking, or clogged
- Looking at if the gauge readings are in the proper conditions
- Seeing if instructions are legible and readable
- Ensuring that the fire extinguishers are full by lifting or manually weighing them
If your extinguishers fail a visual inspection, replace them immediately. You can also reach out to Chesapeake Sprinkler for a more in-depth annual assessment.
Create an Action Plan
All employees should try to remain calm and on the same page if a fire happens. The best way to be on the same page is to create an action plan, which includes:
- Rescuing any patients who are in danger
- Activating a fire alarm if you see a fire or responding right away when you hear a fire alarm
- Confining fires by closing off doors and hallways
- Extinguishing only small fires and leaving large fires for the fire department
Contact Chesapeake Sprinkler today to ensure that you have high-quality fire protection systems in your medical facility.
Contact Chesapeake Sprinkler Company Today!
Chesapeake Sprinkler Company is a leading fire sprinkler contractor in the region, which is now a 100% employee-owned (ESOP) company. As a full-service fire protection company, we offer design, fabrication, installation, testing, maintenance, and inspection of fire protection systems—everything you need from your fire suppression specialist.
For more information, please email or call our Odenton location at 410-674-7041, our Ashburn location at 703-729-5150, or for service/maintenance Chesapeake Protection Services at 410-674-7577. Feel free to keep in touch through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!