Before beginning this chapter, we want to stress that the information provided here is a guideline ONLY and that every individual home you work in will have its own Fire Safety Plan, which has been created by the facilities staff and then approved by their local fire department’s Chief Fire Prevention Officer. Because every facility has a Fire Plan unique to their specific building, there is no way to generalize all procedures and/or evacuation plans to follow in the event of an emergency.
The orientation that you will receive before your first shift in each facility is where you will be trained by their staff. At this time, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have in regards to their Fire Safety Plan and become familiar with all policies such as locations of exits, internal holding areas, and evacuation procedures. Fire drills are performed annually in a scenario representing the lowest staff levels and it is imperative that all GAIA staff is familiar with evacuation procedures in the event they are present at a facility the day a fire drill occurs.
In general, for each facility you should know:
FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS
Most Long-Term Care homes have two-stage fire alarm systems with pull stations located throughout the building. These fire alarm systems are connected directly to a central agency that calls the fire department and the facility to verify the existence of a fire. The fire department must still be called by a staff member in the facility when the alarm sounds and make them aware of the location of the fire.
When the pull stations are activated they sound the alarm throughout the building. This is the First Stage of the fire alarm and the buzzers will ring intermittently. This is a notice that there is a possible fire in the building and evacuation is possible. The buildings are also equipped with heat and smoke detectors that will activate the first stage of the fire alarm system when they sense heat or smoke.
A special key is required to activate the second stage of the alarm that means there is confirmation of a fire and evacuation is necessary. The buzzers will ring much louder and faster. Only the maintenance staff with direction from the RN, Manager on Call or the Fire Department can silence this alarm.
NOTE: Most facilities you will work in will have sprinkler systems but older buildings may not. As of January 1, 2014, amendments to the Ontario Fire Code came into effect and by January 1, 2025, all Long-Term Care homes must be equipped with sprinkler systems.
IN CASE OF FIRE
The most important thing to remember during an emergency of any kind is to remain calm and listen for instructions from your superiors or announcements from the paging system.
NOTE: Buildings that are over 18 meters high require a voice paging system. Verify whether or not the facility has a voice paging system during your orientation.
Upon Discovery of a Fire, respond by using the “REACT” method:
R – Remove people from immediate danger if possible.
E – Ensure the door(s) and window(s) is closed to confine the fire and smoke.
A – Activate the fire alarm system using the nearest pull station.
C – Call 9-1-1 to notify local fire department, and the RN to advise the location of the fire.
T – Try to extinguish the fire and/or continue to evacuate.
NOTE: Check to see if there are any O2 canisters or other combustibles in the fire area and remove them as quickly as possible if it is safe to do so.
A “Code Red” should be announced over the paging system and repeated 3 times with the location of the fire. The Incident Manager or designate will delegate this task.
If you are sent to look for the source or possible fire, never open any doors without looking through the window first. If there is no window, place your hand on the door to feel for heat and look at the bottom and/or edges of the door for smoke before opening.
Upon Hearing Fire Alarm:
A. If Intermittent (Stage One):
B. If Continuous (Stage Two):
All facilities are equipped with “ABC” type (dry chemical), red fire extinguishers through the building which have approximately 8 – 25 seconds of extinguish ant, depending on the size. The kitchen areas will have “K” type extinguishers which are silver in color. They all operate in the same way which is referred to as “PASS”:
P – Pull the pin.
A – Aim the nozzle.
S – Squeeze the handle.
S – Sweep the extinguish ant over the fire.
In the event that a small fire cannot be extinguished with the use of a portable fire extinguisher or the smoke presents a hazard for the operator, the door to the area should be closed to confine and contain the fire. Leave the fire area. Ensure that the Fire Alarm System has been activated and that the Fire Department has been notified prior to any attempt to extinguish a fire. Only those persons who are trained and familiar with extinguisher operation may attempt to fight the fire. Never re-hang extinguishers after use. Ensure they are properly recharged by a qualified portable fire extinguisher service and that a replacement extinguisher is provided. Make yourself familiar with the locations of portable fire extinguishers during your orientation shift.
NOTE: Prior to using a K-type extinguisher, activate the kitchen extinguishing system to avoid electrocution.