Ask Sheila England

Sheila will try to answer as many of your English Social Care questions as possible, giving priority to frequently asked questions and questions regarding current events and trends.

New fire regulations?

I have just heard that the fire regulations concerning care homes have changed 2 weeks ago. According to one Fire Service Engineer company we hired, care homes should now have fire alarm systems in place that monitor each room like a nurse call system so that a panel can tell you which room a fire alarm has gone off in. They told us the old system of having "zones" is now considered unacceptable. Please could you confirm this? Thanks very much. Regards, Adam.

Dear Adam,

Thank you for your question. Yours is not the first question that I have received about this and I asked our Health and Safety Expert Adviser for his advice and this is what he said:

“I think what Home Managers do need to be aware of are Fire Engineer Companies looking to cash in and tell people they must have the latest all singing and dancing fire detection system and that other systems are no longer compliant. Any change in legislation has a conversation timeframe in upgrading systems.

The key piece of legislation is the The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and in reference to fire detection systems Section 13 states:

Where necessary in order to safeguard the safety of relevant persons, the responsible person must ensure that the premises are, to the extent that it is appropriate, equipped with appropriate fire-fighting equipment and with fire detectors and alarms.”

The best guidance available as to what constitutes ‘appropriate’ and ‘necessary’ is the British Standard BS5839-1:2013, which says that addressable systems are now required and that auto-diallers must now be fitted.

Care homes should have an L1: systems installed throughout a building, to offer the earliest possible warning of fire and thus the longest possible time for all the occupants to escape.

Examples of premises that might adopt L1 systems include those with sleeping accommodation, i.e. hotels, hostels, hospitals and residential care homes, and larger, non-residential places of assembly such as covered shopping malls.

Whilst there is a system which operates like a nurse on call system (thus locating a fire source to an individual room) my understanding is that this does not have to be installed into current care homes which have a zone system of automatic fire detection in place - in fact most care homes I visit have the zone system. What is required are that new buildings or new automatic detection systems do need to be linked to individual rooms rather than zoned areas. 

Many fire and rescue services have chosen to send a letter to all residential care premises in their area highlighting these changes.  This letter is simply to make you aware of the changes rather than must do now. “

I am very grateful for his expert advice and I hope that you are reassured.

Best wishes.

Sheila 


What would you like to ask Sheila?

Sheila Scott OBE from National Care Association (NCA). Care is Sheila’s life; she possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business and as a leader in the care sector.

Sheila will try to answer as many of your questions as possible, giving priority to frequently asked questions and questions regarding current events and trends.

Please note that Sheila can not offer answers to matters requiring legal advice. If your matter concerns a specific service provider, please contact the CQC.







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