Three in five care home workers believe their workplace is at serious risk of fire, new research has revealed.
The study released today to mark Fire Door Safety Week, which is supported by London Fire Brigade, reveals alarming misconceptions over fire door safety and high prevalence of unsafe practice.
Three quarters of the 1,000 current and former care home employees surveyed believed more could be done to prevent or manage a fire. Three in five reported fire safety concerns, with more than half (51%) saying unsatisfactory action was taken as a result.
Nearly half (47%) said they did not understand the role a fire door plays in keeping a fire contained for a specified time, while over eight in ten (82%) admitted to deliberately keeping a fire door open – defeating its purpose.
One in five care workers incorrectly believed that painting a regular door with flame proof paint made it a legitimate fire door, and the same proportion stated that the gap between the fire door and door frame did not matter.
Additionally, three quarters (72%) said they had witnessed or were aware of fire doors being tampered with, including removing the door closer to make doors easier to open. As well as making the door closer redundant, when combined with other adjustments, this could leave the fire door unfit for purpose in the event of a fire.
Helen Hewitt, Chief Executive of the British Woodworking Federation, which organises Fire Door Safety Week, said: “We all need to feel protected inside buildings, and especially so when we are asleep. Care homes and other specialised housing provide a living place for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. The companies and other operators that run and maintain them have a responsibility to ensure their residents’ safety – and as an industry we need to continue to provide our expert support to ensure the correct specification, installation and ongoing maintenance of fire doors. We hope that through raising awareness during Fire Door Safety Week, lives will be saved through a reappraisal of fire doors and safety arrangements in multiple occupancy buildings.”