The health care industry has many factors most businesses need not worry about—the biggest being fire protection. In most companies, if a fire breaks out, there is an evacuation plan in place (if it cannot be controlled by a fire extinguisher or sprinkler system) and the fire department is called. Hospitals, assisted living centers, and urgent care clinics, however, are filled with patients who cannot easily move themselves. This makes fire prevention as well as protection critical aspects of building design/layout, fire protection equipment installation and inspection, and employee training.
When most people think of hospitals, they think of frantic ER rooms or clean rooms filled with instruments where patients recover. However, there is another part of a hospital which is rarely seen that is at greatest risk of a fire. Just as in your own home, the most dangerous place in a health care facility (be it a hospital, nursing home, or assisted living facility) is the kitchen, followed closely by the laundry room.
Patients need to eat and sleep, so cooking and cleaning the linens are perpetual activities. This mostly 24-hour cycle creates high risk of fires for health care properties.
Mental Health Facility
This chart shows how urgent care type clinics and normal doctors’ offices have fire risks more in line with typical offices with regular 9 – 5 hours—space heaters and equipment fires being chief problems.
These statistics show the danger of fire in a health care facility is only slightly related to its medical function. While there are real dangers in oxygen usage and numerous machines, the most common dangers come from areas which might not get the attention they deserve—especially the commercial kitchens and laundry rooms.
Additionally, many hospital fires are made worse due to a poor understanding of the design of the facility. Too often, IT personnel drill holes through firewalls to run cables for various medical equipment. These holes destroy the ability of these walls to help prevent fires from spreading.
Therefore, one of the best options for a health care center risk manager is to educate the staff on the various fire risks, how to prevent them, and how to react properly to a fire. Such a manager can consult a local fire protection company to create the best protection systems and evacuation design and plan.
One of the best ways to deal with the risk of fire is to have a licensed team of fire inspectors come into to your health care facility and give it a top-to-bottom inspection. Again with the day-to-day risks in health care centers coming from areas not related to the actual practicing of medicine, it is easy for the risks to be missed. Most health administrators are health care professionals themselves, so it is rare they ever worked in the kitchens!
Therefore having a full inspection can catch the day-to-day risks which can easily be missed by administrators more focused on the medical side of the facility and not the facility in total. Given how many patients have limited to no mobility, it is critical such training be done. Having all staff trained on how to properly use a fire extinguisher can mean the difference between a small incident and a major fire. This training also focuses management on continually updating the fire risk to their facility.
If you need inspection and training services in Houston, Texas, contact Kauffman Co. today. You cannot plan for a fire, but in your health care facility, you can plan on being prepared!
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