Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF), Fire Engineering and Fire Risk Management Consultants
Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF), Fire Engineering and Fire Risk Management Consultants


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Lawrence Webster Forrest
Legion House
Lower Road

Tel: +44 (0)20 8668 8663 Fax: +44 (0)20 8668 8583

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises - Hospital Streets & Escape Route Widths - Part 21

Posted by LWF: 10/05/2018 11:00

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, we look to give information on best practice in fire safety for hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 20 of this series, we looked at what total maximum travel distances are laid out and must be adhered to, before beginning to look at the requirements for Hospital Streets in terms of fire protection and construction. In part 21, we will continue looking at Hospital Streets before discussing the width of escape routes.

At upper levels, hospital street should provide access to a minimum of two stairways in separate sub-compartments, located so that the maximum distance between the stairways does not exceed 60 metres and the maximum single direction of travel within the street does not exceed 15 metres. The distance from a compartment exit to a stairway via hospital street is no more than 30 metres. The distance between the exit and the stairway should contain no other accommodation aside from sanitary accommodation.

Compartment doorways into hospital street should not be located in the same compartment as entrances to stairways and lifts and should always be located so that an alternative means of escape from each compartment is possible.

Stairways should be placed so that the maximum travel distance from the stairway enclosure to a final exit is no more than 60 metres. The Fire Service will have additional requirements for access to hospital street and these should be provided for as appropriate.

On upper storeys, stairways should be provided in two of the three sub-compartments and the third sub-compartment must be able to accommodate all occupants of the largest adjoining compartment, along with all associated beds and medical equipment.

As well as taking into account the travel distances to final exits, the width of escape routes must also be considered. In the case of healthcare departments where beds and patient trolleys should be moved during an evacuation, the width of the circulation space must be adequate to allow this to happen, along with any staff members moving the bed or trolley or holding equipment used by the patient. 

In other areas, the width of the escape route should be determined by the potential number of people using that route in an emergency. Stairs must also be avoided in any circulation area and any changes in level should be overcome using ramps.

In those areas where beds or trolleys will not be in use, the minimum clear width of an escape route must be 1200 mm for up to 200 people and an additional 275mm for each additional 50 people.

In part 22 of this series, LWF will discuss vertical escape. In the meantime, if you have any queries about fire safety in healthcare premises or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years' experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings. 

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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