From providing the best care to keeping up with the always changing healthcare landscape, hospitals already have a lot on their plates. With any other large facilities, hospitals also need to make sure that they are on top of various aspects of facility management, and that includes fire prevention. Whether it’s getting and maintaining fire equipment or implementing a fire protection plan, hospital managers and administrators need to have strong fire safety guidelines for their premises.

Many building fire safety plans are plotted so that everyone inside the building can safely and quickly evacuate in the event of an emergency. When it comes to designing a fire safety plan for a hospital, it can get even more complicated. At any given moment, there could be hundreds, or even thousands – depending on how big the hospital is – confined to wheelchairs and beds and are incapable of moving around by themselves. When designing hospital fire safety plans, Ensuring that all patients as well as the nurses, assistants, doctors, surgeons, and other hospital staff can get into safety away from the fire should be the primary goal of hospital fire safety plans.

Fire Emergencies Can Strike At Any Time

Fires can strike at any time; and when it happens at healthcare facilities, the risks are even more significant. An article from the Claims Journal cited that there have been close to 5,700 fire incident cases reported at medical facilities; more than 1,000 of these fires happened in hospitals. While the number of deaths is usually small in hospital fires, significant property loss and injuries are the usual results. The U.S. Fire Administration reported that close to $4 million in loss of property occurs due to fires in hospitals.

Hospital Fires: Confined and Non-Confined

More than 60 percent of hospital fires were confined fires in the kitchen. 9.8 percent of confined fires also took place in compactors and trash incinerators and 2.9 percent occurred in fuel burners and chimneys.

On the other hand, non-confined fires are the fires that occur in larger structures, and they took up 27 percent of the reported hospital fires. The most common causes of non-confined fires were electrical and wiring malfunctions. 12 percent of the causes were reported intentional actions, and 11 percent was other equipment.

Eighty-four percent of hospital fires generally stayed where they originated. It’s very rare that hospital fires grow bigger to affect other areas of the facility; only 3 percent of hospital fires extend past the point where they originated.

According to the study, hospital fires also likely occur in the early evening hours and the daytime. Sixty percent of fires occur between 7 am and 6 pm, and the highest chances are during noontime, from noon to 1 pm.

Preventing Hospital Fires

Even the smallest, most contained hospital fires are likely to cause costly property damage or severe injuries; and more massive fires can be more destructive and devastating. Thus, there are several guidelines and precautions hospital managements need to take to prevent fires. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements order that medical facilities must have fire prevention plans that hospital staff should be extensively familiar with.

Here are the basic guidelines that hospital fire safety plans should have:

  • A list of all the significant hazard and the right type of fire equipment to use to control each of them.
  • A list of all the likely points fire can originate and their controls
  • A list of the proper handling methods and storage procedures for certain hazardous materials
  • Processes to take when it comes to controlling the accumulated flammable waste materials
  • Procedures to maintain any protection installed on any tools or devices that produce heat
  • The complete contact information of the staff in charge of maintaining fire equipment
  • The complete contact information of the staff in charge of controlling and managing fuel source hazards

Hospitals must also have clear and specific exit routes and evacuation procedures. The fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and other fire equipment must be regularly maintained and must always meet the most current federal standards.

It’s always a good judgment to review your hospital’s fire safety and prevention plans. Make sure that all hospital staff – medical, administrative, and operations – are aware and are always reminded of all the precautions to keep hospital fires from happening and spreading.