27 March 2014

The Scottish Government has launched revised guidance aimed at reducing the risk of fire in the country’s care homes, and assisting care home owners and staff in fulfilling their fire safety duties.

The plan was originally written after a blaze that took place in 2004 at Rosepark care home in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, where 14 residents lost their lives.

Subsequently, the guidance was praised by Scotland’s Sheriff Principal at a fatal accident inquiry into the tragedy in 2011.

However, the Scottish Government gave an undertaking to further revise the guidance to take account of a small number of issues raised at the inquiry.

Besides those points, the guide has been substantially edited to make it more user-friendly and take account of comments received during a recent public consultation exercise.

The document, Practical Fire Safety Guidance for Care Homes, lists potential causes of blazes, such as cigarettes, candles, heaters and cooking equipment, and ways to lower the risks such items can pose. These include restricting how often portable heating appliances are moved, and replacing naked flame and radiant heaters with a central heating system.

It also stresses the importance of having a suitable evacuation plan in case of fire. This was highlighted as some residents may require considerable assistance due to infirmity, a lack of mobility or impaired awareness of the situation.

Commenting on the guide, Scotland’s Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham said, “It is essential that we do everything we can to protect often-vulnerable residents of Scotland’s care homes from the risk of fire. We have taken the opportunity to develop a substantial revision of the Scottish Government’s fire safety guidance to provide an improved guide which is practical and easy to use… We hope this will give residents and their families peace of mind and prevent further tragedies from occurring.”