The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Underground Locations – Part 78

June 3, 2019 1:01 pm

In LWFs 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 77, LWF discussed the safe storage and disposal of dangerous substances and care in explosive atmospheres. In part 78, we will look at fire precautions in underground locations.

Underground locations are subject to some specific fire safety considerations that above ground locations are not. It is much easier for a fire to go unnoticed in an underground location and that fact, coupled with the limited ventilation involved can make for a very dangerous build-up of toxic gases, smoke and heat. 

In addition to underground premises, it should also be noted that any premises without windows must also be subject to the same considerations, as follows:

 Storage of flammable items should be undertaken and arranged in such a way that the fire-risk potential is minimised.

 Where it is practical, access should be arranged from the outside air directly.

 Any area which is considered to have a significant fire risk must be separated by fire-resisting construction from any other area and the rest of the premises. Such areas must also be provided with automatic fire detection equipment, or where appropriate, with fixed fire-fighting equipment appropriate to the assessed risk. In practical terms, this may mean a sprinkler system.

 A designated means of escape must be provided for the use of any occupants or maintenance staff and a means of both giving and receiving fire warnings must be provided as a separate zone off the main healthcare fire alarm system. A fire alarm call point is one way of providing a method of giving fire warnings and sounders, flashing lights etc. can be used to alert any occupants of that area to a fire.

 Ventilation systems must be installed and maintained to minimise the potential for fire, smoke and toxic fumes spreading through the system throughout the area or to other areas.

 Smoke outlets and access for firefighters must be provided and the adequacy of provision consulted upon with the local fire authority.

Lightning protection should be considered and where deemed necessary, provided. The consideration should be made at the design stage and, where it is provided, it should be maintained in accordance with BS EN 62305.

In part 79, LWF will talk about fire safety training for staff of healthcare premises. 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 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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