Senior living life safety tips during the heating season
Your operations are probably not as safe as you think, as a client found out during a recent loss control visit. While conducting a physical hazard survey of a school building, a small, smoldering fire was discovered in the boiler room.
The fire apparently started when combustible material—a roll of tar paper—was placed in close proximity of the boiler. The attending consultant removed the smoldering material and extinguished the small fire, which could have caused significant loss.
This incident stresses the importance of conducting continuous self-assessment of your skilled nursing or assisted living facility’s boiler rooms, furnace rooms and other mechanical rooms associated with heating operations at the beginning of the heating season. It is not uncommon for combustible items to be moved around during the summer months and allowed to accumulate near heating system components when the equipment is not in use.
Throughout winter, it is essential for long-term care facilities and senior housing properties to ensure that the area around heating equipment is free and clear of all combustible material. I recommend at least 36 inches of clearance be maintained around all electrical and mechanical equipment to prevent similar incidents from occurring.
Stan Szpytek is the president of consulting firm Fire and Life Safety, Inc., in Mesa, Arizona, and is the Life Safety/Disaster Planning Consultant for the Arizona Health Care Association and California Association of Health Facilities. Szpytek is a former deputy fire chief and fire marshal with more than 35 years of experience in life safety compliance and emergency preparedness. For more information, visit www.emallianceusa.com or email Szpytek at Firemarshal10@aol.com.