Fire risk assessment for the healthcare sector

30 December 2022 AGF Fire Protection

fire risk assessment healthcare

In a healthcare setting, where there are so many people with health and mobility problems, fire risk assessments are vital. When you are dealing with very vulnerable people who may have high dependency needs, much greater care must be taken to ensure their safety.

The government’s guidelines on Fire Safety Risk Assessment for Healthcare Premises warn: “The risk assessment should take into account the patient’s medical conditions, sensory awareness and mobility.” The guidelines continue: “In large healthcare premises, especially those providing services for very highly dependent patients (such as those in intensive therapy units, special care baby units, and operating theatres) or disabled people, you may also need to consult a professional access consultant or take advice from disability organisations.” 

While every organisation has a legal obligation to do a fire risk assessment, there are particular needs that those in charge of healthcare premises must take into account. 

The responsible person 

There must be a person who is responsible for ensuring that fire risk assessments are carried out, fire hazards are identified and fire safety measures are implemented. In small healthcare premises, the responsible person or persons can be the manager or building owner. In larger healthcare premises, the responsibility needs to lie with senior leaders and board-level management. 

Needs of the patients

Healthcare premises deal with patients with low mobility and alertness, such as those who cannot walk without assistance or those who suffer from mental illness. In hospitals, there will be many patients who have a high dependency on clinical staff, such as those in intensive care units and those undergoing treatment in operating theatres. The fire risk assessment must take patient needs into consideration. The guidelines state: “A fire safety system should not impair the quality of treatment of the patients and the equipment provided and management procedures in place must be appropriate.” 


While your fire detection and warning systems need to trigger the action people need to take, the needs of patients who require assistance to escape the building must also be taken into consideration. In your risk assessment, consider the possibility that patients who have to wait for rescue will be distressed by the noise of the alarm and take this into account when assessing sound levels. During your fire safety risk assessment, you also need to consider putting communication procedures in place so that patients who cannot respond to the alarm without assistance can be kept informed about what is happening. 


The varied mobility levels and care needs of patients must also be taken into account when planning evacuation strategies. In a GP surgery or outpatient department, it is likely that the majority of visitors will be able to make their own way out with direction from staff members. However, in healthcare premises where there are patients with more complex needs, your emergency plan needs to take more into account. This includes the conditions and dependency of the patients at any given time, as well as the staffing levels needed to facilitate a safe evacuation. You must provide training to ensure staff take appropriate action in the event of a fire.

Dangerous substances

If any flammable liquids or gases – for example, oxygen – are used or stored at healthcare facilities, it is important to ensure these substances are safely stored and handled. You must also provide the emergency services with relevant information about those dangerous substances.


By necessity, most healthcare premises have their own laundry facilities, which poses an additional fire risk. Many laundries are located in the basement, which means if a fire does break out, it could affect the escape routes in the rest of the building with smoke escaping through laundry chutes. Therefore particular attention needs to be given during the fire risk assessment to ensure staff understand the safe use and maintenance of all laundry equipment. 

Outsource fire risk assessment for your healthcare premises

As one of the UK’s leading fire safety companies, we offer comprehensive fire risk assessment and all aspects of fire safety management for businesses around the UK, including those operating in the healthcare sector. Contact us to find out how we can help you protect your patients and staff. 

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