Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF), Fire Engineering and Fire Risk Management Consultants
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Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises - Compartmentation & Fire Hazard Rooms and Areas - Part 39

Posted by LWF: 13/09/2018 12:56

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, the aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 38 of this series, the importance of fire stopping the joints between fire separating elements such as walls and any openings was discussed. In part 39, we will continue in that area by looking at fire hazard rooms and areas.

While most types of buildings require the protection of escape routes with fire-resisting walls, ceilings and doors, this is not normally possible in a healthcare venue. In order to be effective, the fire-resisting construction (or compartments) must be separated by self-closing fire doors at regular intervals and this is not practical for the everyday practicalities of a healthcare building. 

In order to protect a healthcare building, it is important that rooms or areas containing fire hazards are identified and segregated from the main with minimum 30 minutes fire-resisting construction. 

While it is possible to give some examples of areas which will require fire-resistant construction, it is essential that each building and area within is fully considered and assessed from this point of view at the design stage. 

Areas which should be enclosed in fire-resisting construction and remain locked – Chemical stores, cleaners’ rooms, clothes storage, disposal rooms, hub rooms, main staff changing and locker rooms and store rooms.

Areas which should be enclosed in fire-resisting construction and fitted with free swing, self-closing fire doors – Relatives overnight rooms, ward kitchens.

Areas which should be enclosed in fire-resisting construction and fitted with self-closing devices on fire-resistant doors – Communal bathrooms in mental health premises, linen stores and staff on-call rooms.

Areas which should be enclosed in fire-resisting construction, but self-closing devices are not required on the doors – Patient bedrooms which are designed specifically for people who have either mental health needs or who have learning disabilities.

While all relevant fire hazard rooms and areas should be enclosed in 30 minutes fire-resisting construction in terms of integrity and insulation, there are some circumstances where the walls may be terminated at ceiling level, as below:

- The ceiling is non-demountable and has a minimum fire-resistance period of 30 minutes when tested from below, in accordance with BS 476 part 20 and  part 22. (It should be noted that any lighting units in the ceiling must also comply).

- Ducts perforating the ceiling are fitted with fire dampers.

- Conduits, pipes and other elements which perforate the ceiling are fire-stopped and comply with the guidance given in HTM 05-02 on protected shafts.

It is possible that the incorporation of a sprinkler system may affect the level of risk of a fire hazard area and in these circumstances, the necessity of fire-resisting construction should be risk assessed.

While un-insulated glazed screens may not be used in fire hazard rooms, glazed screens providing a minimum fire resistance of 30 minutes (integrity and insultation) when tested to BS 476 or BS EN 12600 may be used without limitations.

In part 40 of this blog series, LWF will look at the use of Ventilation Systems. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact Peter Gyere on 020 8668 8663.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF's publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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