One of Britain’s leading independent fire safety experts has called for all care homes to install life-saving sprinkler systems in the wake of the Canadian blaze tragedy.
Cumbria-based, Safety Management (UK) has been campaigning for laws to be introduced to make sprinkler systems compulsory in every high rise flat in the country.
It is now extending that campaign to care homes and says that those which don’t have the systems already installed should now look at retro-fitting them as a matter of urgency. It is also urging home managers to immediately review their fire evacuation procedures in the wake of the fatal fire in Canada.
SMUK says that the danger is increased at night-time – when staffing levels at care homes are lower. And it warns that a similar tragedy could happen in the UK.
As many as 31 elderly Canadians are unaccounted for and five are confirmed dead, after a fire destroyed the old people's home in Quebec.
Former firefighter and managing director of SMUK, Brian Gregory, (above) said care homes should look at ensuring that every resident has their own personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP).
He explained: “The problem is that getting elderly and infirm people to a place of safety or even out of a building takes time and there has to be sufficient staff there to help that process happen quickly before any fire takes hold.
“Staffing levels are obviously lower during the night-time and this is where potential risks are increased. PEEPs are individual to each resident and ensure everyone working in a home knows the level of mobility of individual people and what is needed to get them to a place of safety.
“However, the biggest issue is that of sprinkler systems. The cost of retro-fitting is now significantly less than it was in the past. We recently recommended the retro-fitting of sprinklers in a care home rather than upgrading fire doors, as this was the more cost effective option for the care home.
“Sprinkler systems are a life-saver. They won’t put a fire out, but they will stop it from spreading. They buy time and for elderly or infirm people that can be vitally important.”