Hospitals are one of the main facilities that need to have up-to-date fire safety systems to ensure the security of staff and patients. For this reason, a recent situation concerning NHS trusts is particularly disturbing. In July of this year, four NHS trusts were warned by fire chiefs that they would be shut down if improvements to their facilities were not made.
Why were the hospitals dangerous?
The fire brigade described the hospitals as ‘so decrepit that they pose a threat to patients and staff’. After inspecting the premises fire chiefs have made it clear to the trusts that they must improve the hospitals to ensure safety, otherwise they will face legal action and be closed down.
Chris Hopson, the NHS Providers chief executive, said, “A number of trusts have told me that they are worried they are running an unacceptable fire hazard risk”. The trusts blame the dilapidation of their hospitals on multi-billion pound government reductions to the NHS’s capital budget, which is used to repair facilities, and buy new equipment. They explained that the cuts have left them without the money to solve issues such as water and sewage leaks, or broken lifts.
It isn’t just the fire safety in these hospitals which has suffered from reduced funds, and so not only the fire brigade has warned the NHS trusts. The Care Quality Commission has been considering enforcing change after discovering infrastructure problems which could affect patients wellbeing.
After £4 billion cuts to the NHS capital budget, the hospitals have ceilings falling down, and patients are being forced to wait dangerously long for life-saving treatment. The collective repair bill for all of the NHS hospitals is a shocking £6 billion.
Fire risks in hospitals:
Although it has not been revealed which fire hazards were found in the hospitals, there are some standard risks which are probably involved.
- Fire doors: these doors must not be damaged, and it is essential that they can close automatically when fire alarms are activated.
- Electrics: sockets cannot be overloaded, and use of extension cords has to be limited. Also, broken appliances or wiring must be repaired by a professional.
- Kitchens: there must be fire extinguishing systems in place in the kitchens, and emergency shut-off valves for gas and electric appliances.
- Waste: rubbish can be very flammable and so must be stored in specific facilities.
- Flammable liquids: these liquids have to be stored in a secure, ventilated, and temperature-controlled area.
What fire safety systems do hospitals need?
Fire safety in hospitals can be difficult because there are always people coming and going, and the facilities have multiple hazards including electrical medical equipment, plug sockets, and kitchen facilities. Additionally, fire safety always involves evacuation, which is especially difficult with hospitals as you need to move immobile or dependent patients. This means hospitals need to ensure they have all the correct equipment and training to make the process of either evacuation, or extinguishing a fire, successful and safe.
Important fire safety equipment for hospitals:
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