The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Fire Safety Measures for Healthcare Buildings – Part 65

March 11, 2019 3:19 pm

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, our aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 64, LWF discussed the threat to life, continued treatment and the loss of potentially expensive equipment if a fire was to occur and stated the fact that active and passive fire protection methods, as well as fire prevention must be of the utmost importance to healthcare venues. In part 65 of this series, we will continue from that point to consider other issues of importance relating to healthcare venues and fire.

The provision of adequate means of escape for building occupants is a statutory requirement. Once a fire has started, it is essential that people inside the building can turn their backs to the area of fire origin and travel away from it to a place of safety, which may be outside the building, if necessary. The escape route may incorporate circulation spaces, other fire compartments, escape routes and stairways. Alternative escape routes which lead directly to a place of safety are necessary. Progressive horizontal evacuation is the principle upon which escape in a healthcare venue is based and this may mean that a place of safety is a compartment providing 30 minutes minimum fire resistance, rather than a full evacuation to a place outside the building (as this can prove impractical when care is on-going, and some patients may be immobile).

Fire safety is not the sole responsibility of one individual, fire safety awareness in healthcare premises is within the remit of all those who work there, from the most senior to the most junior. Each is responsible for understanding the characteristics of fire, smoke and toxic fumes that will result from a fire. They must know and understand the fire hazards of their own working environment and practise and promote fire safety so that they may act instinctively when a fire occurs.

In an emergency, human behaviour can be unpredictable and should not be underestimated. If attention is paid to the detail of fire safety on a day to day basis, this should help control the number of fire outbreaks which results in saved lives and a reduction in the resources which must be spent on restoring fire-damaged buildings and equipment. 

In part 66 of this series, LWF will begin to look at how fire safety policies in healthcare buildings should be composed. 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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