Nursing Home Fire Risk Assessment (PAS 79-2000)

A Fire Safety Risk Assessment is a valuable method for identifying compliance or non-compliance with fire safety regulations and offering a proper perspective of your current fire safety status

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Nursing Home Fire Risk Assessment (PAS 79-2000)

Nursing Home Fire Risk Assessment (PAS 79-2000)

Table of Contents

Fire safety is essential in every business, whether large or small. This is especially important for residential care settings such as nursing homes. Implementing fire safety measures ensures that injuries to staff and residents and property damage are minimised or prevented. The duty of fire safety rests with the employer, the registered provider, and the person in charge(PIC). Fire Risk Assessments are required under current regulations for all commercial buildings and must be completed by the owners and occupiers of such buildings.

Therefore, fire risk assessments must be carried out under the Fire Services Act of 1981, the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act 2005, and residential care under the Health Act 2007, respectively. The failure to address or take into consideration fire hazards is inherently dangerous. There is a risk of catastrophic consequences, including losing a life and significant damage to business property where fire risk assessments are not completed or are completed by a person who is not competent to do so.

Due to our decades-long experience in the fire, health, and safety sector, we have assisted small, medium, and big enterprises and organisations in formulating fire risk assessments, including hospitality, transportation, entertainment, manufacturing, and healthcare premises, PAS 79-2020 Fire Risk Assessment meets the requirements set out in HIQA’s January 2021 “Fire Safety Handbook: a Guide for Providers and Staff of Designated Centres,” where it states, “The report should describe the actions taken by the provider and managers to manage identified risks.” The report should also record the measures implemented to eliminate or control the identified risks. The risk assessment should be carried out to a recognised standard such as PAS 79, which your competent fire safety professional can advise you on”.

It is estimated that over 90% of workplace fires in Ireland are caused by human error. Further investigation indicates that, of the many enterprises affected by a fire, up to 80% of them do not return to normal operations. The devastating consequences of fire cannot be overlooked: people, structures, lives, and livelihoods may all be lost. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, includes employers’ need to have fire safety risk assessments that identify fire hazards, with a systematic evaluation of threats and vulnerabilities to determine whether a risk of harm to staff or the general public exists. It is also necessary to consider the criteria for safe evacuation and placement of the residents in a residential care setting, such as a nursing home.

In addition to performing fire risk assessments, Phoenix STS will provide recommendations on additional measures necessary to ensure compliance with fire safety legislation; the requirements set out under the Health Act 2007 and 2013 Care and Welfare of Residents in Designated Centres for Older People Regulations (HIQA).

We can also help you develop your emergency response and evacuation plans, train your fire managers and staff, complete fire drills, and set up your fire register. In addition, Phoenix STS carries professional indemnity insurance to provide fire safety consultancy services.

Steps to Fire Risk Assessments

  • The first step of a fire risk assessment is identifying fire hazards in your workplace.
  • Identify the people at risk.
  • Review of electrical sources of ignition.
  • Review of the lightning protection system.
  • Review of the management of smoking.
  • Review security against arson.
  • Review the use of portable heaters and heating and ventilation installations.
  • Review the management of cooking.
  • Review the management of housekeeping.
  • Review the management of hazards introduced by outside contractors.
  • Review the management of dangerous substances.
  • Review the management of means of escape.
  • Review the management of fire safety signs and notices.
  • Review the measures to limit fire and development.
  • Review the management of the emergency lighting.
  • Review the management of the fire detection and alarm system.
  • Review the management of portable fire extinguishers, hose reels, and fire blankets.
  • Review other relevant automatic fire extinguishing systems.
  • Review the management of portable fire extinguishers, hose reels, and fire blankets.
  • Review employee fire safety training and fire drills.
  • Review the management of portable fire extinguishers, hose reels, and fire blankets.
  • Review access and facilities for the fire service.
  • Review management of fire safety (procedures and arrangements)

On completion of the fire safety assessment, you will be presented with a report. This report will highlight non-compliance with building regulations or fire safety legislation. Also, highlight where fire safety training is required to ensure compliance, including a prioritised action plan for implementation to ensure compliance with fire safety legislation and requirements set out by the regulator HIQA & Mental Health Commission, guidance, and best practices.

How do we complete the Fire Risk Assessment?

  • When our assessor arrives on-site, they will first go through the process, outlining the procedure for the assessment.
  • Fire compliance documentation is available to demonstrate fire compliance regulations are being met; this process takes one to two hours.
  • We would typically request that the facilities manager or maintenance person and fire safety manager (person in charge) be present for this assessment element.
  • We then move to inspect the building; upon completion of the inspection, we meet with the relevant management team and summarise the findings.
  • Although this inspection is ordinarily visual and non-intrusive, the outcome may lead to a more in-depth analysis of fire risks identified during this process.
  • Our report will generally be available within 72 hours of the inspection date, excluding bank holidays and weekends.

Fire Risk Assessment Questionnaire

Please see below a list of questions that will assist us in completing the fire risk assessment. It is standard for management not to answer all the questions listed below; provide what information is available to you, and we will help you find the rest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FQA)

  • What is PAS 79-1:2020 about?

    PAS 79, which was last revised in 2012, provided generic fire risk assessment guidance. However, the housing sector wanted more housing-specific recommendations to be developed. It was therefore decided to revise PAS 79, updating the existing PAS and renaming it as Part 1, and introducing a new, housing-specific, Part 2. Consequently, PAS 79-1:2020 gives recommendations on how to carry out fire risk assessments that will protect the occupants of non-domestic premises, e.g. employees, contractors, visitors and members of the public.

  • Who is PAS 79-1:2020 for?

    Fire safety professionals with knowledge of the principles of fire safety, who are either responsible for one particular organization’s fire safety assessment or work for consultancies providing fire risk assessments as a service.

  • Why should you use PAS 79-1:2020?

    This PAS gives recommendations and corresponding examples of documentation for undertaking and recording the significant findings of fire risk assessments in non-domestic premises and parts of non-domestic premises for which fire risk assessments are required by legislation. In the case of mixed-use premises, comprising, for example, shops or offices on lower levels of the building, with flats on the uppermost levels, PAS 79-2:2020 is applicable in relation to the flats. The objectives of PAS 79-1:2020 are to:

    • Provide organizations and their advisers with a methodology that can help them meet their legislative responsibilities to undertake fire risk assessments
    • Provide a framework for the assessment of fire risk
    • Promote better understanding of fire risks and fire safety by organizations and non-fire specialists
    • Enable common relevant terminology to be adopted by those who carry out fire risk assessments
    • Provide an understanding of the principles and scope of fire risk assessments
    • Establish a pragmatic, holistic and risk-proportionate approach towards assessment of fire prevention measures, fire protection measures and management of fire safety, for the purpose of conducting fire risk assessments, based upon a fundamental understanding of fire safety principles
    • Establish a satisfactory basis for documentation of fire risk assessments
    • Provide a benchmark for a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment
    • Promote a consistent approach to carrying out and documenting a fire risk assessment that is likely to be satisfactory to enforcing authorities

    Dispel misconceptions as to the nature and scope of a fire risk assessment

  • What’s new about PAS 79-1:2020?

    This full revision introduces the following principal changes:

    1. PAS 79-1 is a code of practice, whereas PAS 79:2012was a guide. PAS 79:2012 was already written in the form of a code of practice – the change in status is simply to recognize this, noting that guides are not usually of such a nature as to sustain a reliable claim of compliance
    2. The scope now excludes blocks of flats, sheltered housing, extra care housing, supported housing and certain houses in multiple occupation (i.e. those falling within the scope of the relevant fire safety legislation), all of which are now covered in PAS 79-2:2020
    3. The technical content has been subject to amendment in the light of experience in the use of PAS 79
    4. There is new guidance on the consideration to be given to external wall construction and cladding
    5. There is recognition of pre-occupation fire safety assessments, a term now defined in this PAS, and a clarification to avoid confusion between these assessments and the fire risk assessment to which this PAS refers
    6. There is even greater emphasis on competence of fire risk assessors and reference to future competence standards. It’s also noted that fire safety specialists with experience only in the design of new buildings might not possess an appreciation of standards against which older buildings were designed and the possible continued acceptability of such standards
    7. Changes to, and publication of various new, British Standards have been taken into account
  • What is a fire risk assessment?

    A fire risk assessment is a review undertaken of a building in order to assess its fire risk and offer recommendations to make the building safer, if necessary.

  • How often should a fire risk assessment be carried out?

    Every 12 months, you should do a fire risk assessment in your building. While the law does not define the need for any set evaluations, it does outline the requirements for non-domestic buildings, such as commercial buildings. These regulations stipulate that non-domestic properties must conduct fire risk assessments on a regular basis and that a written record of the results must be kept.