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Evacuation Strategies : Nursing Homes


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Hi All,

I wonder if anyone can point me to useful up to date guidance regarding evacuation strategies for nursing homes. This is where the majority of residents would require significant physical assistance. Also any relevant guidance re: defend in place strategies. As always, the thoughts & views of the FS community are most welcome.


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On the basis of the risk assessment conducted, and taking into account both existing fire precautions and those set to be put in place, the evacuation strategy can be determined.

I would think horizontal phased evacuation would be the first consideration and maybe vertical phased evacuation could be considered depending on the height premises. Also defend in place should be considered depending on the FRA.

Horizontal phased evacuation

In hospitals and care homes, floors may be divided into a number of fire-resistant compartments and occupants can be moved from the compartment affected by fire to the adjacent compartment. This may need to happen more than once. Depending on the severity of the fire, it may eventually be necessary to consider vertical evacuation. Because of the extra time this entails, a combination of fire precautions may be required:

  • Voice alarm systems
  • Fire control points
  • Compartmentation of the premises using fire-resistant construction materials
  • Sprinklers in buildings whose top floor is over 30 metres above ground level

Defend in place

This strategy may be considered in blocks of flats where each flat has a minimum 60 minutes’ fire-resistant capacity, and in hospitals or nursing homes where patients are connected to life-support equipment and cannot be moved. It means that occupants can stay put while the fire services attempt to extinguish a fire. If the fire spreads and cannot be contained, a full evacuation is initiated. In case of patients connected to life-saving equipment, a decision has to be made as to which option is preferable, staying or moving, as there are serious risks attached to either one.

Defend in place strategies, phased evacuation schemes and staff alarm systems should only be implemented upon the advice of a competent person and the fire and rescue services.

For guidance I would study the DCLG guide https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-risk-assessment-residential-care-premises and although not a hospital I would consider HTM 05-02 http://www.checkmatefire.com/downloads/HTM_05-02.pdf

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