Two fatal care home fires, Rosepark, involving multiple deaths, and a Lincolnshire Residential Home, involving one fatality in the fire enclosure, are examined for fire scenario development and occupant behaviours. Compartmentation in both premises provided greater than 30-min protection from smoke penetration for closed rooms but was compromised by open rooms. Safety then depended on staff response. At the Lincolnshire Home, staff rapidly investigated and isolated the fire, resulting in a local fatality but protecting other occupants. At Rosepark, the open fire enclosure (a cupboard) affected ten open occupied bedrooms in two subcompartments. Training inadequacies resulted in failure to identify the fire location and close room doors, leading to multiple deaths within 9 min, and reporting delays. These incidents and others show common features involving fire and smoke spread from open rooms exposing occupants in other open rooms and staff failing to close doors while involved in other activities. With well-trained staff, safety can be provided by fire-resisting construction, incorporating subcompartments with few bedrooms and free-swing, fire-rated doors, with smoke seals and automatic closure. These protect all occupants beyond the fire enclosure so that members of the staff are free to attend those immediately affected. Sprinklers provide further protection, particularly for occupants and members of the staff near the fire. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.