The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises – Examples of Fire-Engineered Healthcare – Part 71

January 31, 2022 11:54 am

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 70 of Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises, LWF looked the example given in HTM 05-03 of structural fire engineering used in a state-of-the-art hospital facility. In part 71, we continue by considering how fire engineered design was used in a hospital design where there were elements of non-compliance.

When contemplating a design of any kind which might fall outside usual parameters, it can be most effective to include fire engineering at the conceptual design stage. In this example, a hospital design was proposed which contained aspects not compliant with the guidance in Firecode. Firecode gives prescriptive guidance for standard healthcare builds, in common with other non-healthcare specific fire safety legislation. However, fire engineered designs allow variation from the standard by providing fire safety solutions which supplement the shortfall perceived by the statutory guidance to the same standard, but not using the same methods.

The main issues in this instance related to the following:

  • Space planning was non-standard
  • Egress and compartmentation
  • Fire Service access
  • Atrium provision

The fire engineered solution provided for the project included defined compartmentation specific to the design, the entrance area contained a reduced enclosure to allow a better use of space and provided facilitation of innovative space planning. As the fire engineer was engaged at an early stage of the process, the changes could be implemented prior to commencement of works and so costs were not impacted negatively.

The provision of an atrium in a building is a common area where statutory fire safety guidance cannot be used effectively. The large space and, often, high ceiling height means that there are compartmentation issues. If a fire started in an atrium open to several storeys of the building, for instance, the fire could spread quickly through the building. Compartmentation is a passive fire protection measure, meaning it is installed during construction and, if correctly maintained, will suppress the passage of fire from one area to the next for a designated amount of time. Where it is not possible to use compartmentation to control fire spread, it is common to see a fire engineered solution utilising active fire protection measures, such as sprinkler systems.

In Part 72 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will look at the case in HTM 05-03 of an atrium as the centre of a district general 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.


Share this post