Setting Standards for Safety (Feb. 2024)

By Drew Bielemeier

The people and families who choose the Heritage Christian Services certified residential program must have homes that are as safe as they are accessible, comfortable, and familiar. Striking this balance is crucial for the dignity and health of the people who choose to live in these homes.

In the event of an emergency in the home, such as a fire, many considerations need to be made when evacuating everyone. The fire code our agency follows sets the standard for life safety in certified residential homes, defining things such as door width, materials used for construction and the decibel level of fire alarms.

If a home does not have a sprinkler, according to these regulations, people need to evacuate a home in under three minutes. That can be difficult depending on physical needs of people living in the home and the time of the day. When you pair a strong life safety code with a sprinkler system, people can have up to 13 minutes. Yet sprinkler systems are very expensive.

In addition, each home needs to address mobility needs, such as removing awkward or difficult steps or stairways that are part of the home’s fire escape plan, or adding paved sidewalks. In many of our certified residential homes, people use wheelchairs or other mobility aides to get around the house. Each of our homes has determined how much time is required for everyone to evacuate a home.

Your contributions to the Homes with Heart campaign can help us continue to support safe and accessible homes.