Using data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), we can estimate there are over 1,200 structure fires per year on healthcare properties. Almost 300 of those fires occur in hospitals and hospices – potentially risking lives and injury to patients, staff and visitors. Hospitals have fire safety policies in place and medical staff are repeatedly trained and drilled on emergency procedures. Reacting quickly and calmly in a crisis is critical to protecting both patients and property. Everyone must do their part to protect and save lives.
During a fire emergency, a trained medical staff is undoubtedly the most qualified to carry out the facility’s emergency guidelines. However, professional visitors should also have a basic understanding of fire safety to be able to care for themselves in case of an emergency. This allows staff to keep their focus on assisting patients. While professional visitors may not be an asset during a fire emergency, they should certainly not be a liability.
Required standards, such as those imposed by The Joint Commission, detail safety programs that integrate into “all processes, functions, and services within the hospital, including patient care, support, and contract services.” These standards clearly indicate the initiatives must be “hospitalwide.” In addition, OSHA’s model fire safety plan includes awareness for “all who are on premise.”
General fire safety training includes fire hazards and fuel sources, equipment handling and exit strategies, as well as fire prevention measures particular to a healthcare environment. For instance, many of the materials needed for medical procedures are potentially hazardous and take special training to use safely. Fire safety training should also be ongoing as seldom-used training, such as fire or electrical safety, can deteriorate without reinforcement. If, at a minimum, professional visitors are able to safely remove themselves from a critical situation, the training would be considered successful.
For vendor representatives: Reptrax UniversityTM, our online, compliance training package offers a course on fire safety. Learn the types of fire hazards commonly encountered in the healthcare environment, the information necessary to prevent fire and the steps to take in case of fire.

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