Seniors living in assisted living facilities are especially vulnerable during emergencies. That’s why staff need regular fire safety training in care homes. A recent study has shown that to be effective fire safety training needs to cover the basics of fire science, as well as provide a thorough explanation of the facility’s emergency preparedness plan and reinforcement through drills.

Fire danger

Team members should be instructed on basic fire science, including common causes of fire, locations that they occur most often, how they spread, and the dangers of fire and smoke.

The majority of fires in assisted living facilities are confined fires that typically do not result in serious injury or property damage. These include cooking fires and some electrical fires, such as those in small appliances. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), confined cooking fires made up 77% of fires in assisted living and related residential board and care facilities and 3% of fires in those facilities are from clothes dryers igniting.

During fire safety training, staff should also be introduced to the equipment and systems used in assisted living facilities to help in the event of a fire. Alarms are used to alert the community and firefighters to a fire danger. Portable fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems like sprinklers are used to help put out or contain the fire.

Emergency preparedness

An assisted living community’s emergency preparedness plan lays out the specific procedures for staff to follow in the event of a fire. Regular practice drills keep staff ready to handle emergencies calmly and effectively. One such procedure is R.A.C.E.

R.A.C.E. to safety

During fire safety training in care homes, staff members learn how to R.A.C.E., or Rescue, Alarm, Contain, and Extinguish. While rescue should be of utmost importance, whenever possible steps should be done together, such as pulling an alarm while ushering residents out of the area.


Staff are instructed to evacuate residents in immediate danger from the fire, especially those who have mobility issues or require assistance.


Staff should alert others to fire danger by pulling the nearest fire alarm to ensure that residents, staff, and visitors are alerted. Calling 911 confirms there is a legitimate threat and enables vital details to be relayed to fire and rescue personnel.


If possible, staff should take steps to contain the fire, such as closing doors and windows. This should only be attempted if it does not risk harm.


While large fires are best handled by firefighters, properly trained staff may attempt to put out small fires with portable fire extinguishers when doing so does not jeopardize safety. To use fire extinguishers effectively, staff are trained on the PASS procedure (Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the trigger, and Sweep across the fire) and which types of fire extinguishers should be used for specific causes of fire.

Fire safety training in care homes made easy

Looking for more ways to keep residents safe? The senior care experts at SeniorLivingU have created training resources to help assisted living administrators keep staff prepared in the event of a fire or other emergencies. Our Fire Safety DVD covers how to assess, respond to, and contain fires. To help administrators create a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan, SeniorLivingU offers the Emergency Preparedness manual.

SeniorLivingU provides educational products for senior living staff and administrators. Our solutions are available in a variety of product types to meet your needs. These include our popular Anytime Learning Portal, manuals, and DVDs. Contact us today to learn more about SeniorLivingU and the services and resources we provide.