The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Designing Fire Precautions – Part 34

June 21, 2021 10:17 am

LWF’s Fire Safety Engineering blog series is written for Architects, building designers and others in the construction industry to highlight and promote discussion on all topics around fire engineering. In part 33, LWF considered fire protection in institutional residential buildings. In part 34 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will continue discussing fire precautions in residential institutional buildings.

Historically, there is a good record of low incidences of fire in healthcare premises, but the potential for loss of life remains a concern. In the case of existing healthcare premises, upgrading of fire controls to include active fire protection measures and informational fire detection systems is recommended. In the past, some major fires have happened in buildings caring for people with mobility impairments or learning disabilities and it is important that extra provision should be considered for such premises.

Premises which have undivided cavities are more prone to fatalities and increased serious damage because fire is able to spread rapidly through the areas which are unseen, for example roof spaces.

The Health Technical Memorandums – Firecodes – contain guidance on the fire precautions design needed for healthcare premises. The principles contained with Firecode are backed by information in support of the recommendations and therefore can be easily used for reference outside of the UK, too.

In the UK, water suppression protection, an active fire control measure commonly referred to as sprinkler systems, is not yet routinely adopted in the residential institutional occupancy category, although they are recommended for use where appropriate in various guidances.

Sprinklers are more often used in areas covered by the National Fire Protection Association, based in the United States.

The use of a water suppression protection system can help to control fire and smoke spread, enable safe evacuation of staff, patients and visitors and allow time for the Fire Service to attend and deal with the fire. Their use can also allow the designer to utilise fire engineered solutions, which can allow greater freedoms of building design.

In a healthcare building, the potential for fire damage to essential equipment and patient care areas is also a serious concern. Increased controls and fire protection measures are advised and justified, as the cost of replacing such equipment is considerable and the impact upon patient care can be devastating.

In part 35 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will continue discussing fire precautions in residential institutional buildings. 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 the LWF office on 0800 410 1130.

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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