Common Fire Hazards for the Healthcare Industry


    Fire safety is equally as important in healthcare facilities, especially due to the number of potentially vulnerable people that may be at risk on the premises, whether a hospital, care home or medical practice of any kind.

    As dictated by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, a designated “responsible person” on each premises or within each organisation is charged with carrying out a full and detailed fire risk assessment at the property. Part of this assessment entails the careful highlighting (and rectifying) of anything that may be deemed a fire hazard – whether it is something that has the potential to cause a fire, or an obstacle that may obstruct evacuation.

    Within the healthcare industry, this person’s role is more important, due to the sensitive nature of the environment, as mentioned above.

    With the prevalence of electrical equipment on the premises of many healthcare facilities, the potential for fires breaking out through faulty or overworked sockets, cables and the like is high.

    Kitchen facilities, too, are a constant threat – particularly in care home environments where ongoing, round-the-clock care is provided for many people. Cooking fats, electrical ovens, hobs or toasters, open flames and more are all potential hazards.

    Less common, but equally dangerous, are fires caused by specialised medical and surgical equipment. Laser and electrosurgical tools provide a genuine ignition hazard, while compressed oxygen tanks, surgical clothing and flammable sterilising/disinfecting liquids are perfect fuel.

    As part of the fire risk assessment that law dictates must be carried out on the premises, steps must be taken to remove any hazards that are identified.

    In respect to the risks mentioned above, this involves ensuring that all electrical equipment is well maintained and checked regularly, with annual PAT testing a necessity. Plug sockets should not be overloaded, particularly by energy intensive medical machinery, and all visibly damaged plugs and cables should be replaced immediately.

    Keeping all smoking areas well away from the main building and clearly signposted is also vital. Make sure there are no potential fuels in the area, such as refuse collections or oxygen tanks, and that ash trays are plentiful and emptied regularly.

    In respect to kitchen areas, enforcing regular and thorough cleaning is essential. A build-up of grease and dust in ventilation equipment is a common cause of kitchen fires, and with high use catering environments in care homes and hospitals, this becomes an even greater risk. Appropriate firefighting equipment, such as fire blankets and extinguishers that are suitable for fires caused by oils and cooking fats, should always be present and well maintained.

    The sensitive nature of healthcare environments means that fire detection and suppression is of high priority. A fire within a hospital where patients are receiving vital treatments is a serious threat to life, and evacuation procedures become far more complex when mobility is an issue for many. This makes the removal of fire hazards even more important and could result in the need for more regular assessments of the risks present on the premises than might be necessary in other industries.

    Here at Firechief, we want you to feel safe. Our mission is to work hard every day to protect lives and property from fire by providing a range of fire safety products that can be trusted to perform when the heat is on.

    The Firechief range includes high performance fire extinguishers, fire blankets, first aid kits, lithium-ion fire extinguishers and Firechief CAVIUS Alarms.

    For more information, call us on +44 (0)330 999 0019 or email

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