The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises – Fire Engineering – Advantages & Disadvantages – Part 7

November 2, 2020 2:47 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 6 of Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises, LWF looked at how the presented fire safety engineered designs should be assessed. In part 7, we consider the advantages and disadvantages of fire safety engineering, before discussing fire engineering in the context of healthcare premises.


The advantages of fire safety engineering can be summarised as follows:

Fire safety measures are tailored to specific risk and specified objectives – there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Building design innovation is possible without any corresponding compromise in fire safety. Design features that would not be possible with prescriptive solutions can be worked with.

Fire protection costs can be minimised without reducing safety. Fire engineered solutions approach potential issues in a creative way to fulfil safety requirements while saving money.

Recent research into fire can be incorporated into a fire engineered design, whereas prescriptive guidance is not able to respond quickly to advances.

Several alternative fire safety strategies can be commissioned and compared on criteria such as cost and function.

Cost and benefits of loss prevention measures can be assessed.

Concentrates the efforts of the design team and operator on explicitly considering fire safety.


The disadvantages of fire safety engineering can also be summarised:

Fire safety engineering can only be carried out by suitably experienced and qualified practitioners.

There is a potential for increased design time and costs (which may or may not be offset by savings in costs of the design).

There is a potential for lack of data in some areas.

Unless future flexibility of use is specified as a design objective, the fire safety engineered design can restrict future use.

There is a potential for increased ongoing maintenance cost for additional fire precautions and their upkeep for the end user. The end user must also understand and appreciate the fire engineered design and its operation.


Fire Engineering in Healthcare Premises

The use of fire engineering in healthcare premises is increasingly commonplace, because often healthcare buildings are very large or complex in design. Existing codes of practice (prescriptive solutions) can be restrictive to design flexibility whereas fire safety engineered designs work to enable the design as required.

Issues beyond life safety must be considered, for example, the protection of equipment and areas to enable continued care is essential. Fire engineering is also seen more frequently in healthcare buildings because Firecode-compliant solutions tend to be unnecessarily costly.
In Part 8 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will continue to look at where and how fire engineering might be used in healthcare buildings, before discussing potential issues. 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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