Fire in a hospital...and what to do.

What if the Hospital has a Fire?

A hospital is often the place one goes after they’ve experienced a fire, but few people know what to do if there is a fire in the hospital itself. Want to find out? Keep reading!


First thing you should know: hospitals operate on a two alarm system. The first alarm is used to notify hospital staff of a potential fire emergency; however, it doesn’t mean that you should evacuate the building immediately (as in the case of most other fire alarms).

Hospitals are designed to contain blazes and fight the fire while the building remains occupied. Therefore, hospitals call for horizontal evacuations because vertical evacuations are difficult due to patients’ lack of mobility.

Each hospital level is split into different zones and when the first alarm sounds, fire doors automatically close, separating the zones and preventing the spread of smoke and fire.

In Canada, hospital staff undergoes monthly fire drills in order to prepare for a fire emergency. In fact, they are often trained to respond to a fire emergency using the RACE procedure:


Remove: Any person from immediate danger

Alarm: Pull the nearest fire alarm, inform co-workers of the danger and announce a ‘Code Red’

Contain: Close all doors and windows, including patient room doors and fire resistant doors. Disconnect medical gas flow meters in the room.

Extinguish: If trained, attempt to extinguish the fire using a portable fire extinguisher

If the fire cannot be contained, the second alarm will sound and a public announcement will be made about a total evacuation of the hospital. If this happens, staff is instructed on how to evacuate everyone in an organized and orderly fashion.

As a patient or a visitor at the hospital, following instructions is imperative during a fire emergency. Patients and visitors are asked to remain in their rooms with the doors closed, as referenced in the ‘Contain’ portion of RACE. If further evacuation is required, hospital staff and fire personnel will implement a systematic evacuation.

Should you decide to leave your room without instruction to do so, it is imperative you exercise caution. Always feel the door to see if it is hot. If the door is hot do not open it. Place a blanket at the bottom of the door to block smoke and then use a telephone to call for assistance or call for help out the window.

We hope this post has helped you prepare in case of fire in a hospital. Please share your thoughts or any questions on fire preparedness in health facilities in the comments section below.