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How to Design an Effective Hospital Fire Safety Plan

Posted on: March 3, 2011

Most fire safety plans are designed to get each individual inside your building up and out of the building as quick as possible in the event of an emergency. Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done in hospitals. At any given moment, you could have hundreds or thousands of patients confined to beds and wheelchairs who can’t get out by themselves. For this reason, hospitals need custom emergency plans to ensure that all of the patients, as well as the doctors, nurses, surgeons and other hospital staff are able to evacuate quickly and safely in the event of a fire.

Hospital Fire Protection Systems

Just like any other building, having working fire protection systems installed in your hospital is one of the most effective ways to protect your patients and staff. Your hospital should be equipped with fire extinguishers, a fire sprinkler system, a fire alarm system and suppression systems to protect important hospital equipment.

However, simply having the proper hospital fire protection systems in place isn’t enough. Having a hospital fire safety plan is CRITICAL to keeping everyone safe in the event of an emergency. Without one, hospital fires can quickly descend into chaos as everyone tries to escape at once.

Hospital Fire Safety Plans

As with most aspects of fire safety, most hospital safety plans are built around an acronym – in this case, that acronym is RACE.

R – Rescue. The first step in most hospital fire safety plans is pretty simple – get everyone out of the hospital as efficiently as possible. Since some patients may not be able to walk, this step may include moving cots or beds, lifting and carrying patients, pushing wheel chairs or even dragging people across the floor on sheets! If possible, practice these skills on a mannequin once every few months to make sure everyone on staff will be familiar with the proper procedure for handling a fire.

A – Alarm. This stage of many hospital fire safety plans is crucial. Call (or tell someone to call) the fire department, activate a manual pull station, send out a code over the PA system – do anything you can to alert people of a fire and get help as quickly as possible. How you act during the first few minutes of a fire can literally be the difference between life and death – especially in a hospital where fire safety procedures are so different.

C – Confine. Once the rescue and alarm stages are in action, you should try to confine the fire as well as possible. Most hospitals have thick, heavy doors – make sure each one is closed after the last person in the room escapes. Confining the fire is one of the most important steps of any hospital fire safety plan, as it limits the movement of heat and smoke as people are moved to a safe location, either within or outside of the hospital.

E – Extinguish. If any members of your hospital staff are trained in the use of fire extinguishers (ideally all of them would be!), they should act to extinguish the fire as quickly as possible. This stage of your hospital fire safety plan should be undertaken only if evacuation has already started and the fire department is on their way. Make sure that whoever is operating the fire extinguisher has a clear exit in case the fire spreads too quickly.

Having an effective hospital safety plan can keep your patients and staff safe from fires and let you carry on your normal hospital operations knowing you are always protected. If you need help designing a fire safety plan or updating your hospital’s fire suppression systems in Maryland, Virginia or Washington, DC, call Guardian Fire Protection today!

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