Systemic failures of fire protection equipment in Australian aged care nursing facilities

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


European Facilities Management Network (EuroFM)


Margaret Nelson


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Computer and Security Science / Security Research Centre (secAU)




This article was originally published as: Doleman, R. G., & Brooks, D. J. (2011). Systemic failures of fire protection equipment in Australian aged care nursing facilities. Paper presented at the EuroFM Research Symposium. Vienna, Austria.


The residents of aged care nursing homes are reliant upon the owners and managers for their safety. However, there are issues that support fire and life safety non-compliance, such as government funding of nursing homes linked with self assessed assurance. In addition, most aged nursing homes are facility managed by on-site care personnel as a secondary role, emergency agencies no longer complete scheduled audits, auditing by government funding agencies is restricted, and fire and life safety are not considered by the majority of residents or visitors. The higher level of risk within a nursing home environment is due to the demographic of the residents. Such increase in risk places a greater importance on risk mitigation systems, with fire and smoke doors being a pivotal component. The study measured fire and smoke door maintenance compliance by undertaking a statistical random audit of 160 doors in 22 nursing homes in Western Australia, demonstrating a non-compliance level of 87% on the audited doors with a total of 935 failures identified. As a result of the study’s findings, assumptions were able to be drawn such as a lack of suitably qualified staff, a lack of industry-focused skills and knowledge, the absence of any recognised licensing regime or legislative directives and the fire industry’s inability to provide a level of self governance to supervise practitioners. The study demonstrated that despite the requirement for nursing homes to be Government accredited and audited, supported with Australian national standards, there are still high levels of non-compliance.

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