Hospital fires are infrequent. About 100 surgical fires are reported each year according to the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia (August 2005; 101(2): 612). However, hospital fires are especially hazardous due to the wide range of potentially explosive supplies that are used, such as oxygen and chemical compounds.
The combination of combustible materials and hospitalized patients, who may not be able to move themselves, creates an environment that calls for diligent planning and safeguarding to prevent or to rapidly stop fires.
Fire safety plans include three main parts:
- preventive steps – purchasing fire resistant bedding, draperies, and other furnishings/equipment
- fire control measures – fire extinguishers and automatic doors that close when a fire alarm is sounded
- evacuation strategies – plan, routes, and roles and responsibilities for staff to move patients and visitors to safety in an orderly manner
According to the Joint Commission hospital staff members need to know the following:
- when and how to sound fire alarms
- when and how to call fire responders
- how to contain smoke and fire
- how to move patients to safety
- how to extinguish fires
- what fire response duties are
- how to prepare the building for evacuation