Conducting Fire Drills in Florida Assisted Living Facilities
If you run an Assisted Living Facility, you know it is your responsibility to keep your staff and residents as safe as possible. Making sure your facility is ready in the event a fire breaks out is extremely important. That is why conducting fire drills at your facility is crucial in making sure everyone is ready and understands there responsibilities.
The regulations in Florida Statutes 69A-40.036 state that if your facility does not have sprinklers, you must conduct a monthly fire drill, which is 12 fire drills per year, each year. However, if your facility does have sprinklers, you are required to conduct 6 fire drills per year, which is every other month during a calendar year. At least two of those drills must be conducted during the night when residents are asleep. Finally, if you have sprinklers that are considered in “full” compliance and are fully compliant with other safety standards, you are only required to conduct one nighttime fire exit drill.
The first step to ensuring your fire exit drills go safely is staff training. Using your facility Fire Plan should be a great tool for you to help coordinate your fire drills. Be sure everyone on staff knows what to do in the event of an exit drill. Exits must be kept clear and be clearly marked. Does everyone on staff know where the fire extinguishers are located? It is also a good idea to have a clear plan for evacuating residents. Do they know which exit to use depending on where they are? Which residents require assistance to evacuate, and who on staff is responsible? Be sure all of this is clear. If your fire exit drills are successful, there is a much greater chance of success in the event of an actual emergency.
RACE is a recommended acronym in fire safety. You can teach your staff to remember RACE in the event of a fire. R-Rescue people who are in immediate danger. A-Activate the fire alarm. C-Confine the fire by closing doors. E-Evacuate the facility and extinguish the fire (if possible to do safely).
Following each fire exit drill, you must document the events. ALF Boss has created a form that you can use for your facility. Be sure to save the completed forms in your files, as they may be required in the future to document compliance with your local fire Marshall.
Your goal should be for the fire exit drill to run incredibly smoothly for your Assisted Living Facility. You may even want to run more drills than required until you feel confident your staff is fully prepared to handle a real emergency.
Everyone in your facility, both staff and residents, should know what to do in the event of a fire alarm. Be sure everyone knows where the exits are. Then, identify a location outside of the building that is both easy for residents to access but also a safe distance from the fire.
Ensure that a staff member on each shift is assigned to residents that may need assistance exiting. Be sure your administrator or supervisor know where the list of staff, residents, and visitors are kept, as well as emergency contact information. It will be crucial in a real emergency for the administrator or supervisor to be able to tell authorities if anyone is still inside the building.
Of course, the reason to practice the evacuation is to ensure no residents or staff will be left in the building, but it is absolutely critical to be sure so authorities know what they are dealing with if a real fire were to break out.
Over time, your fire exit drills will become smoother and quicker. Remember that a successful drill can mean more lives saved during a real emergency.