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Planning and Practicing Fire Safety
Planning and Practicing Fire Safety
Written by Hannah May
Updated over a week ago

Most people think the danger from a fire emergency is the flames, however, it is the smoke that can travel quickly to areas far from the fire.

It is important to realize that people living in nursing homes may not be able to evacuate with ease due to lack of mobility or other disabilities. Proper planning, training, and practice of all staff are essential in order to provide for the safety of residents.

Adequate planning

  • Every facility should have written fire procedures that are understood and practiced by all staff. Staff should be responsible for knowing and carrying out their part of the plan. That includes doctors, nursing staff, kitchen staff, maintenance, volunteers, and others.

  • Response procedures should be practiced regularly.

  • There should be a clear "code word" agreed upon beforehand for the facility to alert other staff in case of fire.

Quick response

  • Call out the code to alert staff.

  • Activate the fire alarm.

  • Evacuate everyone in immediate danger.

  • Close doors to contain smoke and fire.

  • Once the fire is contained to the room of origin behind closed doors, never reopen the door or reenter the room to extinguish the fire.

  • Close all doors to patient rooms.

  • In evacuating, make sure no patient is left behind.

Practice the RACE Response

Remember RACE: Rescue, Alarm or Alert, Confine or Contain, Extinguish.


The first priority is to rescue the people immediately exposed to the fire. Residents should not be moved in their beds but carried or dragged on sheets or blankets to where help is available. Evacuate horizontally before vertically.

Alarm or Alert

Pull the nearest fire alarm. A fire alarm pull station is usually located near every exit of the building. All staff should immediately report the smell or sight of smoke from any location in a facility. All licensed staff must be aware of the receptionist's phone number, page number, and code for a fire alert at the time she arrives on shift. Alert all staff members to the location of the fire. Prompt alerting of all occupants and staff members is essential. In the event of a system malfunction shout a warning, but remain calm. Never take for granted that an alarm has been transmitted by other personnel. It is up to the receptionist/charge nurse to deem a false alarm.

Confine or Contain

Close all windows, doors, and fire-rated doors in the area of the fire. Shut off any oxygen and ventilation sources near the fire. Once the fire room is vacated, the door should be closed tightly to confine smoke, heat, and toxic gasses and limit the fire spread. If the fire is in a non‐occupied area, first close doors to confine the fire to the room of origin.


Secure a fire extinguisher and attempt to extinguish the fires using the PASS method:

Pull the pin.

Aim at the base of the flame.

Squeeze the handle.

Sweep the base of the flame.

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