The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises – Fire Service Intervention – Part 24

March 1, 2021 1:30 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 23 of Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises, LWF looked at sprinkler systems and gaseous suppression systems for healthcare premises. In part 24, we begin to look at what happens when the Fire Service are summoned to a healthcare building.

The Home Office recommends a Fire Service response time of between 5 and 20 minutes when responding to a healthcare building and this is dependent upon the risk category for the building. Integrated risk management planning and intolerance to unwanted fire signals will certainly affect the weight and timing of the initial response from the Fire Service.

More information on unwanted fire signals can be gained from Health Technical Memorandum 05-03 Part H ‘Reducing unwanted fire signals’. An unwanted fire signal is, essentially, a fire alarm system that gives false alarms and sounds when there is not a fire. Many environmental issues can affect detectors on a fire alarm system and often, such systems can be altered so as to more efficiently protect the building while avoiding excessive unwanted fire signals.

The local fire and rescue service can provide information about the initial level of attendance for a given healthcare building.

Outside the building, it is important that there is sufficient hard standing for a suitable number of Fire Service appliances, as well as fire hydrants placed close to the building. These provisions can be planned by the building’s design team, with input from the local Fire Service. A lack of suitable access to the building and water for the fire hoses can result in delays and increased risk to building occupants and building, equipment and contents.

Once the Fire Service arrive, they must set up their equipment and plan how to tackle the fire. Firefighting usually begins after evacuation is completed. Consultation with the Fire Service is necessary to establish the setup time for a particular fire scenario.

It is possible that the Fire Service may use a tactic named ‘Positive pressure ventilation’ (PPV). It is carried out using fans which are carried on fire appliances and the firefighters will need to identify windows and doors in the building which can be used as exhaust vents. Obviously, the potential exhaust vents will vary depending upon where the fire is situated within the building and which entry point is to be used by the firefighters.

The PPV technique is not be used where it might push smoke so it affects escape routes or building occupants.

In Part 25 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will continue to look at the process when the Fire Service arrives on the scene of a fire in a healthcare building. 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