The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises – Examples of Fire-Engineered Healthcare – Part 69

January 17, 2022 12:50 pm

LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals aims to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 68 of Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises, LWF summarised the results of the project involving the annexe to an existing hospital for a care facility for older people. In part 69, we look at how fire engineering was used in the integration of an atrium into a teaching hospital, as per HTM 05-03.

A teaching hospital may be a functioning hospital with educational facilities provided, or it may be a dedicated teaching hospital which means that it is not designed to cater for patient care. This particular teaching hospital was of the second type and the construction was a proposed three-storey block which included conference and educational facilities on the lower levels, pathology and other laboratories on the upper level and a central atrium.

Patient access would be envisaged in small numbers in various areas of the building, but no patient care or treatment was intended within the facility.

The design for the building was already at an advanced stage when the proposed atrium became an approvals issue. The prescriptive guidance would require the boundary of the atrium to be constructed with 120 minutes’ fire resistant materials, which would have significant cost implications, particularly in the installation of fire-resistant glazing and reduced functionality of the area due to additional blockwork.

The design team considered discarding the atrium idea completely in the light of the requirements for fire safety from the prescriptive guidance. It was decided, however, that this would significantly reduce the quality of the proposals and a fire engineered approach was agreed.

A fire strategy was produced which met all fire safety objectives while also meeting design objectives in terms of aesthetics and cost.

The fire engineer used tools such as fire hazard modelling and cost-benefit analysis to justify and evaluate the desired fire strategy for the building. The alternative fire safety strategy proposed by the fire engineer included fire-resistant glazing round the atrium boundary to maintain natural light and open conditions for exhibitions, while protecting building occupants with this and other fire protection measures.

Although this is not stated in HTM 05-03, it is likely that the onerous structural fire resistance required by the prescriptive guidance was not necessary in the fire engineered solution due to the provision of active fire protection measures, such as sprinkler systems designed to subdue a fire and limit fire spread.

A cost saving of £100,000 was achieved overall and the solution did not limit the ultimate end-use of the atrium base for exhibitions and social functions.

In Part 70 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will begin to look at another example – structural fire engineering in a hospital. 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 LWF on freephone 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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