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Healthcare organizations are familiar with inspection and audit processes. In order to retain licensure, accept insurance payments and treat patients, hospitals, clinics and offices must comply with national and local regulations, including fire safety. Here are a few things you can expect in your facility’s fire safety inspection.
A fire marshal will conduct a visual inspection of the entire premises. He will be checking to ensure occupancy limits are being observed, that all areas have an unencumbered exit path and that equipment wiring and outlets are managed in an organized and safe way. He will also ensure that boxes are not stored on the floor or in walkways, that hazardous chemicals are kept in required locations and that fire safety items like extinguishers are properly located and labeled.
In addition to standard building requirements, a healthcare fire inspection will evaluate the safety of patients and staff. The inspector may request to view policies on evacuation and will want to see evacuation maps in each area of the facility. They may also request documentation of recent fire drills. Fire drills must be held at least once every year and may be required each quarter in some areas.
The inspector will also assess the building for disaster preparation. This includes ensuring parking spots will not hinder the arrival and work of emergency responders. Facilities should make sure fire lanes and hydrants are well marked and staff knows where to park. Staff should be well educated about disaster protocols, as inspectors may want to question random employees about policies.
Fire safety often includes a lot of common sense procedures. In order to ensure success during any inspection, however, healthcare employers should never assume that staff will automatically understand protocols. Annual safety training and periodic fire drills are good ways to ensure staff readiness for inspections or emergencies.