Half of London care homes failing on fire

7 February 2019

The London Fire Brigade has warned, in a new report by its inspectors, that over half of care homes in the capital have been found to have serious fire safety failings.

The report was based on visits to 177 London care homes in order to gauge the level of fire risk across the capital in a one-off series of in-depth inspections.

The Brigade’s findings included the following serious fire safety breaches.

  • One in three premises had inadequate or poorly maintained fire doors.

  • There was widespread confusion about fire evacuation strategies.

  • Fire risk assessments were being carried out by people without the proper skills and experience.

  • Roofs were being omitted from fire risk assessments (roof voids often increase the spread and severity of a fire).

In 2017, two people died in a Cheshunt care home after a fire travelled through voids in the roof which allowed it to quickly engulf the entire building. Fire crews found residents in several rooms, many too frail to move themselves to safety. Miraculously, 33 residents were rescued.

The Brigade says it is so concerned that it has written to every care home in the capital demanding they urgently review their fire risk assessments, emergency plans and staff training.

Commenting on the issue, the Brigade's Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly said, “Over half the care homes we inspected had to make improvements to their fire safety arrangements despite them housing some of London’s most vulnerable residents.

“My main concern is that this audit is only the tip of the iceberg. Care home owners need to urgently review their fire risk assessments and ensure their staff know how to safely evacuate their residents, especially those who are immobile.”