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The NHS improves infection control with Fireco

The NHS improves infection control with Fireco

At the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, hospitals were prepared for maximum capacity and steps were taken to ensure infection control. Alongside this, new hospitals were built in 10 days for the specific treatment of those who had caught the virus and the country was put into lockdown.

Whilst we usually focus on how our products will help with fire safety compliance, we knew that our products could contribute towards helping NHS sites with their infection control efforts.

Map showing locations of NHS sites Fireco has helped

Here’s how we’ve helped the NHS remain COVID-secure:

  • Dorgard SmartSounds were installed in 3 of the temporary Nightingale Hospitals in order to reduce touchpoints. Dorgard SmartSound holds the fire doors open safely meaning that door handles don’t need to be touched in order to gain access.
  • Freedor SmartSounds have been installed in NHS general hospitals in order to reduce touchpoints and improve access by reducing the need to touch door handles.
  • Freedor SmartSound was installed in a COVID-19 test lab. The staff were struggling with the doors and found that they were less efficient, as every time they entered or exited they needed to replace the gloves they were wearing and wash their hands. Since having Freedor SmartSound, they have been able to move freely.
  • Over 200 Dorgards were installed at an NHS warehouse. They hold the doors open meaning that employees don’t need to touch the door handles, reducing cross-contamination.
  • Germgard is being installed in an NHS office base to ensure the use of hand sanitiser by all staff before entering the workplace. This is being installed to align with their Coronavirus Risk Assessment in relation to germ control.

From the start of the pandemic, our products have helped many different establishments with their germ control efforts, including the NHS, schools, offices and more.

If you’d like to know how Fireco can assist with germ control in your building. Contact us today, on 01273 320650.

How can Fireco help the NHS?

How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

“Approximately half of those killed by fires in the home are aged 65 or over” states the North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service*. Older people are often more vulnerable when it comes to accidents and emergencies which places a huge importance on fire safety in care homes. Vulnerability can be down to various reasons, such as, mobility issues, reduced senses, such as not being able to smell, and health issues that can lead to a lack of awareness, such as dementia.

Self closing fire doors have a valuable role in protecting residents in the case of a fire. They create a fire safe compartment which prevents fire from spreading rapidly through a building and allowing time for a safe escape, or rescue from the fire brigade. However, in the daily lives of elderly residents, these heavy self closing doors can be very problematic.

Here are some of the ways that fire doors can affect the lives of residents:

  • Some residents may be injured by fire doors closing too quickly on them, causing them to fall or get bruises.
  • Residents in wheelchairs, on crutches or have temporary mobility issues, may find that they have trouble with access.
  • Residents may feel isolated or lonely due to their door being constantly closed, especially if they are living alone.
  • Due to the weight of fire doors they often slam shut. This may be disruptive, and could even wake residents up during the night.
  • Residents may want to open the doors and windows to allow fresh air to flow through their living space, especially if they struggle to go out. However, closed fire doors will limit the ventilation in the room.
  • Fire doors can be very heavy, meaning some residents will need assistance getting through. This can reduce independence and they may even feel trapped in their own home if they can’t get through the doors alone.

These reasons could lead to residents in sheltered housing and care homes to wedge open their fire doors. However, fire doors can only serve their purpose if they are shut.

Click the tabs below for examples of how wedged/closed fire doors have changed the outcome of fires in care homes.

**In 2005, Rhos Priory care home suffered an electrical fire in the laundry room. Residents were told by staff to remain in the rooms, but as the fire got out of hand all 35 residents had to be evacuated. Four of them had to be taken to hospital after the fire, but luckily were discharged the same day.

When the firefighters entered the building they found the self closers in the fire doors had been tampered with, stopping them from closing properly. There were also multiple wedged open doors throughout the building. This prevented effective compartmentation and allowed for the smoke and fire to spread. The care home manager was fined for failing to keep residents safe.

***In 2014, Donwell House care home were fined £380,000 after a woman was hospitalised due to a fire. Following an investigation, the Fire & Rescue Service found that the fire and smoke had spread from a bedroom through to the hallway because some of the doors were wedged open. This meant that the residents were not able to use the corridor for a means of escape and one resident had to be rescued from a first floor window.

If the fire doors were not wedged open, the fire would have been contained in one room which would have prevented the fire from spreading.

****In 2015, a fire broke out at Summerlands Care Home due to a tumble dryer fault. Staff evacuated 17 residents and firefighters evacuated 6. When the fire service went to tackle the fire they noticed that it had been contained due to all the fire doors being closed. This meant that the blaze could be extinguished and damage was minimised. Not only this, all the residents were safely evacuated.

This is a perfect example of how fire doors play a vital role in saving lives during a fire.

Click here to find out how staff safely evacuated all residents with the help of Fireco products.

Wedging doors open is illegal and can lead to major damage to property, business disruption, large fines and even fatalities. Fire doors can be seen as problematic in the daily lives of residents, however in the long run can save lives. There are legal and safe ways to hold open fire doors, whilst also empowering elderly residents.

*https://www.northyorksfire.gov.uk/communitysafety/elderly-vulnerable

**https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/boss-fined-after-care-home-2891676

***https://www.ifsecglobal.com/fire-news/5-care-home-operators-regret-fire-safety-negligence/

****https://www.hantsfire.gov.uk/incidents-news-and-events/news-releases/2015/six-rescued-from-care-home/

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Why sheltered housing residents are damaging fire door closers

Why sheltered housing residents are damaging fire door closers

Visiting customers over the past few weeks, something that has come up in conversation is the problem of residents damaging or disabling fire door closers. This is not only a safety issue, it invalidates insurance and can lead to big fines for non-compliance with fire regulations.

In sheltered housing, many front doors are fire doors and therefore fitted with door closers. This ensures the door will be closed in the event of a fire, and the spread of fire and smoke will be prevented. Residents will then have more time to evacuate safely, or can remain in a fire safe compartment until the emergency services arrive.

This is particularly important in sheltered accommodation as older residents may have slower reaction times when the fire alarm sounds. Those that have mobility issues will take longer to evacuate.

However self-closing fire doors are heavy and difficult to open. Residents may find it difficult to get in and out of their flats.

The frustration of struggling to open their front door has led some residents to break or disengage door closers. Though understandable, this is dangerous and against fire regulations. If a fire does break out, an open fire door will cause fire and smoke to spread rapidly, putting residents at risk.

To solve this problem, councils often install unnecessary, expensive automatic door operators for these residents to use. A much cheaper option is Freedor.

Residents of Adlington House improved safety and access in their apartment block with Freedor. Click here to find out more

Freedor is a free-swing door closer that takes the weight and closing force out of fire doors. It has built-in technology to automatically close the door when the fire alarm sounds. It’s fully compliant with fire regulations and solves the problem of residents disabling door closers.

As Freedor has removed the weight and closing force of the fire door, all the stress of dealing with fire doors has been removed, and residents can come and go as they please.

Freedor is wireless, so can quickly and easily be fitted to existing sheltered housing units. A key advantage with the wireless systems is the lack of disruption. Freedor can be fitted with residents still in their flats, with minimal restorative works to walls and doors required.

Freedor also safely and legally holds fire doors open at any angle, so if a resident wishes to have their door open, they can.

It’s important that sheltered housing residents do not have their quality of life impeded by the need for fire safety. Fitting Freedor offers them the freedom to live their lives as they wish, without worry.

Main image courtesy of Fire Door Inspectors @firedoorguy

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Fire safety in care homes

Fire safety in care homes

There are many challenges to managing fire safety in a care home. Elderly people are often less mobile; they may use walking sticks or wheelchairs, or be unable to walk without assistance. It can be a struggle for many to move around easily. Emergency evacuation is not a straightforward procedure.

Vulnerable people may have a slower reaction time to fire alarms. Conditions such as dementia will cause confusion and forgetfulness, leading to ovens not being turned off, or cigarettes not being properly extinguished.

A 2014/15 government report found that 41% of all fatalities from fires in England were people aged 65 and over. This makes the elderly 10 times more likely to die in a fire than younger people.

All of this means that care homes are at high risk of fire and their fire safety procedures need to be more complex than in other residences.

Top tips

Fire risk assessments

By law, all care homes must have a fire risk assessment. This needs to be regularly checked and updated. The fire risk assessment must show that reasonable precautions to protect residents and employees have been taken.

Frequent checks of the building need to be made. Things to look out for include:

  • Fire doors are closing properly and are not wedged or propped open
  • Fire extinguishers are present and in working order
  • Fire hazards such as faulty electrical equipment or overloaded power sockets are dealt with
  • Evacuation routes are clear of obstacles
  • General housekeeping — anything can turn lethal if it comes into contact with the heat of a fire, so keep areas tidy to reduce this risk and keep people safe.

Click here for more information on fire risk assessments.

Fire safety training

Training should be spread out throughout the year and all staff should be trained in how to use fire extinguishers. All employees need fire safety training on their first day.

It’s important that all staff know what to do when the fire alarm sounds. What is the evacuation plan? Who are the fire wardens?

How many fire wardens do we need?

A care home is considered a high risk premises so the number of fire wardens recommended is as follows:

Fewer than 15 employees/residents — At least one fire warden

15-50 employees/residents — At least two fire wardens

For every additional 50 — One additional fire warden

It’s important to remember that all shifts must be adequately covered, so you may have to nominate additional fire wardens to ensure there are enough fire wardens for each shift.

Fire drills

The law says that fire drills need to be done, as a minimum, once a year. However all employees must do a drill at least once a year, so you may need to do more than one if people are not in on drill day or if new employees are hired.

Fire drills need to be recorded in the fire risk assessment. If any particular risks or hazards are identified, these also need to be noted and steps taken to remove these.

Evacuation

In care homes there should be a personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP) in place for each individual resident, detailing their needs and requirements. All staff should have access to, and be made aware of, these PEEPs.

It can be useful to set the fire alarm off and record each resident’s response and reaction to it. In some cases, a loud continuous noise can provoke unexpected reactions including violent outbursts or even seizures.

Horizontal evacuation might be required in a care home, which means moving residents to safe parts of the building, away from the fire. This method is used if residents are bedbound, for example, and it is difficult to do a full evacuation.

This method is dependent on passive fire resistance, i.e. walls, floors and doors need to be fire resistant so the fire does not spread.

For further information on passive fire resistance and the spread of fire, click here.

If residents are smokers, a separate smoking risk assessment is important.

Fire alarms

Resident welfare needs to be taken into consideration when testing alarms. Ensure that the test is done at the same time every week and that residents are warned.

It is a requirement for care homes to have an L1 fire alarm system. These are automatic fire detection systems designed to cover the whole building, including unused areas such as roof spaces. L1 systems are designed to have the earliest possible warning of fire for everyone in the building. This is particularly important in care homes as residents will need more time to evacuate safely.

It’s very important to stick to a fire alarm maintenance schedule to ensure the alarm system is in good working order.

Fire doors

Fire doors prevent the spread of smoke and fire. In the event of an emergency, employees will have the hard task of going around and informing the residents. Faith in the doors can help instil a sense of calm.

A fire door is heavy, and needs to be closed to serve its purpose. If you are an elderly resident in a care home, closed fire doors can be isolating. They are difficult to open and can cause injury if they close too quickly. This might mean residents stay in their room as they are concerned about moving through a heavy door safely.

It might be tempting to prop or wedge a fire door open but this is dangerous. If a fire door is wedged open, it won’t close in an emergency and fire and smoke will spread rapidly. This is particularly dangerous in care settings as residents will need more time to evacuate or will be unable to evacuate without assistance.

Deaf residents

Deaf or hard of hearing residents will be unable to hear a fire alarm. A system with flashing lights might be appropriate. Fireco’s Deafgard is placed under the pillow and vibrates and lights up when an alarm sounds. If a pager system is preferred, DMS alerts people by text message in an emergency.

Common sense is always useful when it comes to fire safety. If you see something that looks like a fire hazard, remove it, or speak to the person that can. Keep your risk assessment updated and ongoing and make sure everyone knows exactly what to do in an emergency. Knowledge and safety go hand in hand.

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How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

Older people are often more vulnerable when it comes to accidents and emergencies which places huge importance on fire safety in care homes. Fire doors are essential for fire safety, but in the daily lives of care home residents, they can be problematic.

Silent evacuation of a care home

Silent evacuation of a care home

Evacuating a care home has its own unique challenges. Elderly residents could be bedbound, suffering from dementia, hard of hearing, or unable to move without assistance. Added to this is the distress that a loud fire alarm can cause to vulnerable residents. Plans must be in place to ensure no occupant is trapped in the case of a fire, and staff need to be well trained.

A loud and startling fire alarm could cause physical or mental distress for frailer residents, particularly if they need to wait for help from a member of staff. Even if the noise does not cause panic, different alarms sound frequently in care homes, so it may be difficult to work out exactly what the alarm is for.

“When you work in a care home alarms can be quite confusing for residents, as they might not know what the alarm means — whether it’s a smoke alarm from burnt toast, or an alarm to call for assistance,” says Barbara James, a care home manager specialising in providing care for dementia patients. “This means when a fire alarm goes off, we need to work out the best way to let our elderly residents know without causing upset.”

In Europe, a silent evacuation system is often used. In this scenario, when an alarm is activated, staff are alerted with a pre-alarm notification system — either warning lights, or a messaging system that goes directly to phones. Staff then have three to five minutes to check the building for fire. If it is a false alarm, the alarm is reset and no one is disturbed. If a fire is found, an evacuation button is pressed and staff can move occupants to safety if required, or lead a full evacuation. As no loud alarm is necessary, it minimises upset and panic.

Dorgard Pro connects directly to the fire alarm panel, so can be used as part of a silent evacuation system. Click here to find out more.

One of the benefits of a silent evacuation, is the reduction in false alarms. As residents are not initially aware of an alarm, staff can quickly assess whether or not there is a fire without residents being disturbed.

With the different challenges involved in care home fire safety, a full evacuation is not always possible. In these circumstances it is vital that the fire is contained where possible. The European Confederation of Fire Protection Associations states in its guidelines for fire safety in care homes for the elderly: “If the resident or patient is not able to exit the apartment or treatment room quickly enough and that rescue by others in time is not possible, conditions must be prevented from becoming life-threatening by fitting a system to contain the spread of fire.” Fire doors are extremely valuable here.
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Nothing is more important in a care home than the safety and well-being of its residents. Silent evacuation is a highly effective way of keeping occupants safe and calm in the event of a fire.

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How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

Older people are often more vulnerable when it comes to accidents and emergencies which places huge importance on fire safety in care homes. Fire doors are essential for fire safety, but in the daily lives of care home residents, they can be problematic.

What does your care home feel like?

What does your care home feel like?

The average person consumes 2kg of food and water and breathes out approximately 1,200 litres of carbon dioxide every day. With that in mind, it raises a question — how does that then affect the air quality of where we spend a lot of our time and how important is ventilation?

Care homes are occupied by residents and staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you can imagine how stuffy it can get, especially on a hot summer day. A comfortable living and working environment is important for occupants’ health and general well-being.

Spring is officially here and the weather is warming up. Out in the garden, the smell of cut grass and an iced tea in hand — spring can be invigorating. But if you live or work in a humid and sticky environment with inadequate ventilation, it can feel almost insufferable.

Research carried out by the European Respiratory Journal highlighted that poor air quality in care homes is having an impact on the health of its residents, and that more natural ventilation removes old and musty air, providing fresh air into the building. Dr Isabella Annesi-Maesano, lead author of the study comments, “Nursing homes should do more to prevent indoor air pollution by improving ventilation in their buildings.”

The most common complaints from occupants living or working somewhere with poor air quality are:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Allergies aggravated
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Respiratory disease.

 

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How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

Older people are often more vulnerable when it comes to accidents and emergencies which places huge importance on fire safety in care homes. Fire doors are essential for fire safety, but in the daily lives of care home residents, they can be problematic.

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