Fire safety is one of the most important and high-stakes components of managing a healthcare facility. Healthcare facilities are designed specifically to care for people but the layout and equipment used may also increase the risk of fire. Unfortunately, in addition to an increased risk of fire, there is an increased risk to residents’ safety if a fire does start. Most residents in healthcare facilities are injured, sick, disabled, or elderly and therefore need special fire safety programs and services to ensure their safety. NFPA reported that from 2011-2015 there were 5,750 fires per year in healthcare facilities which caused $50.4 million in damages per year. Not only that, but 157 injuries per year resulted from these fires. Fire safety in healthcare environments poses its challenges, but the following tips can help you reduce hazards and increase safety.
What are Typical Fire Safety Issues in a Healthcare Environment?
Healthcare facilities have unique features that may increase the risk of fire. For example, healthcare facilities may have large industrial kitchens to meet food preparation needs. The NFPA identifies kitchen equipment as a major contributor to the start of fires. Healthcare facilities may also have special heating systems that support the individual space heaters in rooms. Other specialized health equipment can also be a fire hazard if it overloads an electrical socket. Healthcare facilities also require complex electrical wiring and have extensive electrical needs. A poorly maintained electrical system increases the risk for fire. Lastly, healthcare facilities often have flammable chemicals stored for medical uses or cleaning that can act as fuel to a fire. Specifically, large amounts of oxygen supplies pose a risk because oxygen is combustible.
What are the Most Common Causes of Fire in a Healthcare Facility?
According to the NFPA, the leading cause of fires in healthcare facilities is cooking equipment, which is responsible for 66% of fires. Interestingly, the fires caused by cooking equipment only contributes to 3% of property damage reported by fires in healthcare facilities, suggesting that these fires are usually quickly contained. Fires caused by electrical or lighting equipment contribute to 12% of fires in healthcare facilities and these fires result in 36% of the property damage reported. Heating equipment accounts for 5% of fires. Smoking is also a hazard in healthcare facilities and smoking materials are responsible for 5% of fires as well. Lastly, fires caused by an individual playing with a heat source causes 2% of fires.
As you can see, the main cause of fire in healthcare facilities is cooking equipment. This should be kept in mind in the management of your healthcare facility, the fire prevention measures you take, and the fire protection systems you employ.
How can Hospitals Prevent Fires?
Protecting your hospital from fire is a daunting task because of the multiple hazards, complex layout, and myriad safety considerations. First, you should contact a licensed professional fire protection company like Keystone Fire Protection Co. to help navigate the specific needs of your facility and keep you current on the rapidly changing regulatory environment. The most important ways you can prevent fire in your hospital are to be aware of the specific hazards of your facility. You should list the major fire hazards in your hospital and appropriately manage the risks associated with those hazards. For example, if you have a complex electrical system that often has highly occupied sockets due to personal medical equipment, make sure to have your electrical system inspected and maintained by a professional regularly.
Your facility should be practicing procedures that maintain safeguards. For example, educate staff on the proper care and storage of flammable or combustible materials, follow instructions for equipment that produces heat, and clean kitchen and cooking equipment on a frequent and regular schedule. After you’ve identified the major hazards, adjust your fire protection system according to those hazards. Alarms and suppression systems should be installed, inspected according to your local codes, and maintained so they are in working order.
Keystone Fire Protection Co. can help you do all of the above with our trained technicians. We meet the rigorous standards of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations so you can be sure that your healthcare fire protection system meets the standards required to be certified and accredited. If you’re interested in learning more about how to prevent fire in your hospital and maximize the safety of your patients, request a quote today. .