Fire risk assessments – in residential care and nursing care premises

The Care Quality Commission is an independent regulator of Health & Social Care in England with responsibility for approving and granting registration to persons or organisations providing or managing social care services, children’s services and independent health care establishments.

The Commission ensures essential standards of quality and safety are met by looking at 28 regulations ( and associate outcomes) set out in two pieces of Legislation; the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010 and the Care Quality Commission (Registration) Regulations 2009.

Regulation 15, – Safety and Suitability of Premises, require that people receive care in, work in or visit safe surroundings that promote well-being.

Before an application for registration is made, providers should consult the Fire and Rescue Service, and arrange for an initial inspection to take place to ensure adequate fire safety provisions are in place and suitable testing of equipment is being carried out.

The address for the Care Quality Commission is:

Care Quality Commission
Newcastle upon Tyne

Telephone: 03000 616161

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service have written to residential care homes to highlight some critical fire safety issues.

Individual fire risk assessments for each resident are critical for their own safety and the safety of other residents and staff.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Regulatory reform (fire safety) order 2005
Care Homes – Protection from Fire and Prevention of Future Deaths

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service wish to highlight some critical fire safety issues to those who own or manage residential care homes for vulnerable residents.

Over the past few years there have been a number of incidents in Warwickshire and other part of the UK that have resulted in a number of deaths, injuries or near misses.

Further to yet another recent tragic death of a vulnerable resident within a care home environment the Coroner has made recommendations about the appropriate levels of fire safety within care homes. This follows on from a recent prosecution of a care home in Southwark, South East London for fire safety offences relating to the death of a resident where the company was fined a total of £120,000.

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service believe that some of these deaths were foreseeable and avoidable and we believe that these issues need urgent consideration and action by care home operators to reduce risks still further.

Individual fire risk assessments of residents

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires the responsible person to identify persons at risk as part of the fire safety risk assessment process for the premises and to take appropriate action to remove or reduce the risk.

Individual fire risk assessments for each resident are critical for their own safety and the safety of other residents and staff. This will assess the needs of the individual in conjunction with care workers and family and consider their habits, physical and mental capacity, and their environment. This should be recorded and considered alongside their care plan, other assessments and personal evacuation plans.

This is very critical where residents are known to be smokers and may be in possession of ignition sources such as lighters and matches as these add greatly to the risks of a fire starting. From this information care and sheltered home operators and other responsible persons must identify the appropriate control measures and additional equipment to best manage the risk of fire and protect individuals at greater risk. These could include:

  • Supervision of smoking, fire retardant nightwear and bedding, or the removal of such ignition sources
  • Additional smoke detection and Telecare systems
  • Water mist systems.

These measures should all be recorded in the significant findings of the fire risk assessment and regularly reviewed particularly where there is a decline in cognitive ability or mobility.

Our approach to regulation and enforcement

Our Fire Safety Inspecting Officers, when visiting your premises, will be looking for evidence that fire hazards (including hazards from smoking) have been taken into account and that you have measures in place to control these hazards. Ideally fire hazards will be removed, but when removal is not possible, we expect that the risk will be mitigated by other means, such as those listed above. With regard to any enforcement action under the Fire Safety Order our officers will not take such action in respect of the issues referred to above if evidence confirms appropriate steps have or are being taken, and that suitable safety measures are being progressed.

Primary Authority Partnerships

For those businesses in a Primary Authority Partnership with a fire and rescue service for fire safety please contact your Primary Authority for further guidance and advice.

Yours faithfully

Fire risk assessments – in residential care and nursing care premises was last updated on September 17, 2018.